Registration opens for owners of assault weapons in Illinois, with some skeptical about enforcement

Craig Wall Image
Tuesday, October 3, 2023
Registration opens for owners of assault weapons in Illinois
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The Illinois assault weapons ban, or the Protect Illinois Communities Act, requires people who already owned those weapons to register them with ISP.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- When the state banned the sale of assault-style weapons earlier this year, it allowed those who already owned them to keep those weapons, with the requirement that starting Oct. 1, the so-called legacy weapons had to be registered with the Illinois State Police.

"I'm counting on people to continue to act the way they do with our FOID law, which is a voluntary compliance, because if they don't, they run the risk of a crime and imprisonment," said bill sponsor and State Rep. Bob Morgan, D-Highwood.

The registration requirement is part of the Protect Illinois Communities Act, which was passed in response to the mass shooting in Highland Park. Gov. JB Pritzker signed it into law in January.

Gun rights groups are challenging the law in state and federal court, and say it really has no teeth, so people will refuse to comply.

"To gun owners, registering our firearms, make, model, serial number, caliber, is akin to giving the state government access to our medical records. And we're not, for lots of them, we're not going to do it," former NRA lobbyist Todd Vandermyde.

"There will be those that flaunt the law just like they're always happened, and they'll run the risk of prosecution," Morgan said.

There are 2.5 million people in Illinois with FOID cards, but no one seems sure how many assault weapons they might own.

State police have provided a tutorial on their website to help make registration easier. Opponents remain skeptical about enforcement.

"State police, for the longest time, couldn't comply with getting the FOID card out in 30 days. I don't see how they have the manpower to chase down on 200,000 background checks a year on 2.5 million gun owners," Vandermyde said.

Gun owners have from now until the end of the year to register those legacy weapons or face the possibility of criminal charges. But, what's not clear at this point is how proactively the law will be enforced, leaving serious questions about just how impactful it will be.