August 11, 2023
In a 4-to-3 vote on Friday, the Illinois Supreme Court upheld the state’s punitive ban on common semi-automatic firearms and normal-capacity magazines, which was passed and signed into law earlier this year by anti-gun Democrat Gov. J.B. Pritzker.
The sweeping law bans a wide variety of guns, including many semi-automatic firearms that lawful gun owners commonly own and use for self-defense, recreation and competition, along with some spare parts for those guns. It also includes a so-called “high-capacity” magazine ban, outlawing handgun magazines that can hold more than 15 rounds of ammunition and long gun mags that can hold more than 10 rounds.
In this case, Caulkins v. Pritzker, which largely challenged the bill on legislative procedural issues, the court ruling stated: “First, we hold the circuit court erroneously entered summary judgment for plaintiffs on their equal protection and special legislation claims… Second, we hold that plaintiffs waived any Second Amendment challenge to the restrictions, as the complaint did not state a claim and plaintiffs explicitly and repeatedly disclaimed any such argument in the circuit court. Third, we hold plaintiffs’ failure to cross-appeal from the denial of relief under count II bars them from renewing their three-readings claim here.”
The decision came as no surprise to leaders of the Illinois State Rifle Association, which chose not to even try to challenge the law in state court.
“We didn’t go into the state court system on this issue because we knew what the outcome would be,” Richard Pearson, ISRA executive director, said in an exclusive interview with Firearms News. “We knew the Illinois Supreme Court was never going to side with gun owners and against the legislature on this.”
Pearson said the timing of the announcement also didn’t come as any surprise to his organization, given certain anti-gun events planned in the state this weekend.
“We knew that it would probably be decided today because Everytown and the Moms (Demand Action) are having their meetings here today,” he said. “So, we figured the fix was in on the timing.”
As Pearson noted, this isn’t the final word in the matter of the Illinois ban. The ISRA’s lawsuit, Harrel v. Raul, which was filed in federal court instead of state court, challenges the law on Second Amendment grounds, and he believes justice will prevail.
“Our premise is simple: The law is a violation of the Second Amendment,” Pearson said. “You can’t take people’s firearms away because you want to.
“Gun advocates across the state should not lose hope because our federal case, which we expect to go before the U.S. Supreme Court, will prove to be a victory not just for law-abiding gun owners in Illinois, but across the country. And the ISRA and the Second Amendment Foundation are proud to stand up for gun owners as we take our case to the highest court in the land.”
Despite winning in the state supreme court, Illinois gun-banners still have more hurdles to overcome just within their own state before they can see the fruits of their labor. As we told you back in January, many county sheriffs—about 75 at last count—have vowed not to enforce the law.
Coles County Sheriff Kent Martin believes targeting the law-abiding with the ban and registration requirement simply isn’t an effective way to address violent crime.
“Citizens who own these firearms legally, have done things properly to get them and who use them responsibly, they’re not the ones who are the problem,” Martin said in an exclusive interview with Firearms News in January. “They’re not the ones committing the gun crimes. I don’t see how requiring a citizen of this county to do that, and to bring their constitutional rights into the equation, is going to stop gun violence in areas by people who are criminals, don’t follow the laws and don’t follow the rules.”
Freelance writer and editor Mark Chesnut is the owner/editorial director at Red Setter Communications LLC. An avid hunter, shooter and political observer, he has been covering Second Amendment issues and politics on a near-daily basis for nearly 25 years.