January 11, 2023
On January 10, 2023, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker signed House Bill 571, the Protect Illinois Communities Act, enacting a law that will ban many of America’s most commonly owned firearms and accessories in the Land of Lincoln. This 110-page bill effectively bans so-called “assault weapons” as well as .50 caliber rifles and ammunition, institutes a ban on standard-capacity magazines and bans “rapid-fire devices.” In a statement, Pritzker boasted that “we passed one of the strongest assault weapons bans in the nation, one I will be proud to sign.” Passage of this measure is a huge step backward for Illinois’ gun owners, putting the state’s laws on-par with states such as California and Massachusetts.
The new law will categorize any firearm that fits a broad list of characteristics as an “assault weapon.” Besides enumerating prohibited features including pistol grips, telescoping stocks and flash hiders that will define the prohibited rifles, pistols and shotguns, the bill specifically lists seven pages of individual models that will be banned. The net effect is that virtually any semi-automatic with a detachable magazine will be restricted. In addition, even “assault weapon attachments” will fall under the ban. Mere possession of a flash hider, telescoping stock or other accessory will constitute a crime, even if there is no firearm present. Possessing a single .50 BMG cartridge will be a violation of the law.
What about Illinoisans who possess these firearms and accessories now? According to the language of HB 571, “beginning January 1, 2024, it is unlawful for any person within this State to knowingly possess an assault weapon, assault weapon attachment, .50 caliber rifle, or .50 caliber cartridge.” The bill does create some exceptions, however. Possession will only be allowed on private property, on the premises of a FFL for repair, while on a firing range or sport shooting competition venue, or while traveling to or from such locations. Firearms must be unloaded and cased during transport.
Detachable box magazines are included in the ban, with the bill placing a limit of 10 rounds on rifle magazines and 15 rounds for handguns. Possession of a magazine that exceeds this capacity will constitute an offense and carry a fine of $1,000 per violation.
Pritzker and his cronies claim that this draconian legislation will make Illinoisans “safer,” just months after signing a police-reform bill that hamstrings law enforcement in its attempts to protect the public. The state’s government is actively turning known violent criminals back onto the streets while trampling on the rights of law-abiding gun owners. Though HB 571’s proponents have claimed that the bill is “constitutional,” the courts will ultimately decide its fate. Plaintiffs, including the Illinois State Rifle Association, are already lining up to challenge the law.
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