Gun rights groups ask Supreme Court to strike down Illinois ‘assault weapons’ ban

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FIRST ON FOX — A gun rights group representing over 2 million members and activists has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to decide whether Illinois’ strict rifle ban is constitutional.

Gun Owners of America (GOA) and its sister organization, the Gun Owners Foundation, on Monday filed a petition for certiorari with the Supreme Court in their challenge to the Protect Illinois Communities Act (PICA). The groups, representing Illinois gun owners, argue the law imposes an unconstitutional, sweeping ban on hundreds of commonly owned and lawfully used rifles and ammunition magazines. 

“GOA has been at the forefront of this challenge since before the bans even took effect, and while our goal was never to have to end up before the Supreme Court, we were fully prepared to do so,” said Erich Pratt, senior vice president of Gun Owners of America. 

“We urge the Justices to hear the pleas of millions of Americans in Illinois and several other states nationwide who cannot purchase many of the commonly owned semiautomatic firearms available today because of the unconstitutional laws passed by anti-gun politicians,” Pratt said. 

ILLINOIS GUN GROUPS REPORT CONFUSION, ‘CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE’ AFTER DEADLINE PASSES TO REGISTER ‘ASSAULT’ WEAPONS

The strict gun control law, signed by Democratic Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker last year, carries penalties for anyone who, “Carries or possesses… Manufactures, sells, delivers, imports, or purchases any assault weapon or .50 caliber rifle.”  

Those who legally possess a banned weapon under the law must register it with the Illinois State Police.

The law also includes statutory penalties for anyone who “sells, manufactures, delivers, imports, possesses, or purchases any assault weapon attachment or .50 caliber cartridge.”

Any kit or tools that are used to increase the fire rate of a semiautomatic weapon are also banned, and the legislation includes a limit for purchases of certain magazines.

ILLINOIS ENACTS 320 NEW STATE LAWS, INCLUDING BAN ON SEMI-AUTOMATIC WEAPONS AND INDOOR VAPING

Illinois state capitol

A federal judge in the Southern District of Illinois had initially ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, finding PICA did not respect the Second Amendment rights of Illinois residents. District Judge Stephen Patrick McGlynn, a Trump appointee, blocked the state from enforcing the “assault weapons” ban, finding it not only restricted the right to self-defense, but in some cases, “completely obliterated that right by criminalizing the purchase and the sale of more than 190 ‘arms.’” 

But the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned McGlynn’s ruling on May 5, 2023, and permitted the law to take effect on Jan. 10, 2024. 

Law-abiding gun owners faced a Jan. 1 deadline to register their so-called assault weapons with the state police. However, Illinois Second Amendment groups reported mass confusion from gun owners and large rates of noncompliance. 

ILLINOIS ASSAULT WEAPONS BAN BACK IN EFFECT AS COURTS PLAY PING PONG WITH GUN CONTROL

Pistols and rifles on display in an Illinois gun store

Of the over 2.4 million Firearm Owner Identification (FOID) cardholders, there have only been 112,350 disclosures filed as of Dec. 31, 2023, according to state police data. Another 29,357 disclosures were in the process of being completed as of Jan. 6.

Gun rights activists previously told Fox News Digital that apparent high rates of noncompliance came from a mix of ignorance of what the law requires and civil disobedience.

Now, they hope the Supreme Court will weigh in on their side. 

“JB Pritzker and his colleagues in the Illinois General Assembly openly defied the Supreme Court and the Constitution when they passed their ‘emergency’ bill to ban so-called ‘assault weapons,'” said Sam Paredes, a board member of the Gun Owners Foundation.

“We are optimistic the justices will choose to hear the case and make clear once and for all that ‘assault weapons’ bans on tens of millions of commonly owned rifles are wholly out of line with the Second Amendment.”  

Fox News Digital’s Houston Keene contributed to this report.

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