(The Center Square) – In its response to plaintiffs’ groups suing to block Illinois’ gun ban and registry, the state argues the law is constitutional and restricts dangerous weapons.
Illinois banned the sale of certain semi-automatic guns and magazines on Jan. 10. The law also sets up a registry of weapons owned by those in possession of them before the ban.
Gun rights groups and individuals filed state-level and federal-level legal challenges.
In federal court last week, Southern District of Illinois Judge Stephen McGlynn consolidated four cases into one and set the response from the state to a motion for preliminary injunction for Thursday.
Despite McGlynn telling litigants in a status hearing last week he didn’t want to be “papered to death,” the state filed a 70-plus page response with 14 exhibits totaling more than 1,500 pages.
The state argues modern firearms were not in common use when the Second Amendment was ratified in 1788, and the state’s law looks to address “dramatic technological changes” that created weapons beyond self defense.
“Plaintiffs cannot meet their burden of showing assault weapons and large capacity magazines are ‘arms’ protected by the text of the Second Amendment,” the state said in Thursday’s filing. “Large capacity magazines are accessories, not ‘arms,’ and they are neither independently capable of nor necessary for self defense. They augment the lethality of firearms by reducing the frequency of re-loading in battle – or during the episodic massacres that now punctuate modern American life.”
Gun rights advocate Todd Vandermyde predicts the state’s argument won’t stand.
“You apply what they want to the First Amendment and the internet, radio, television, Twitter, all the like don’t obtain First Amendment protections,” Vandermyde told The Center Square after reviewing the filing.
Among the stack of pages in the state’s filing are illustrations of banned firearms and magazines. The judge had previously ordered the state to provide a list of all banned items.
Also in the filing are pages of historical analysis of previous weapons restrictions dating back to the 1600s, statistical analysis of modern mass shootings and more.
“They put in something that’s like a hundred pages of news clippings about Highland Park,” Vandermyde said. “That’s not really relevant to the test at hand.”
The argument filed Thursday gives examples of previous lower court rulings on gun restrictions, and points to eight other states with similar bans. While noting last year’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling referred to as the Bruen decision “clarified the analytical framework courts should be using” when handling Second Amendment cases, the state said the ruling “did not say the ultimate conclusions” of previous decisions were wrong.
With more filings expected before a hearing April 12, Vandermyde said gun owners need the law blocked. The window to register banned firearms opens Oct. 1 with the deadline to register being Jan. 1, 2024.
“And don’t forget that in the mid-part of April, all of the other personal restrictions kick in. One of my carry guns is illegal for me to carry under Illinois law,” Vandermyde said. “I think getting an injunction turns us back to a pre-Jan. 9 status. These firearms have been legal for sale in Illinois for decades.”
Among the state’s 1,500 pages are declarations from consultants costing taxpayers hundreds of dollars each. One consultant is charging up to $750 an hour while another charges $1,600 a day for travel and testimony.
Plaintiffs can reply to the state’s response for a preliminary injunction by March 23. The state has until March 16 to address the charge that the ban violates the Second Amendment. Oral arguments in the consolidated case are set for April 12 in East St. Louis federal court.