Illinois Judge Blocks Enforcement of State Gun Grab - For Now

P. Gardner Goldsmith | January 23, 2023
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In Effingham County, Illinois, Judge Joshua Morrison on Friday blocked enforcement of Democrat Governor JB Pritzker’s prize gun-grab jewel, the so-called “Protect Illinois Communities Act” – an act that, if enforced, would do precisely the opposite, by threatening to sic tax-funded cops on the peaceful firearms owners who are forced to pay their salaries.

Specifically, with the new law, the leftist Illinois Governor targeted buyers, sellers, or current owners of AR-15 and AK-47 rifles, and people who do the same with long gun magazines that have a capacity over 10 rounds. Those who buy, sell, or already possess handguns would suffer a government-imposed 15-round limit to their capacity and the statute prohibits the possession and use of devices that increase the firing rate of semi-automatic weapons the way any bump-stock type device or hand-made mock-up might allow.

Signed by Pritzker on January 10, the ban actually is an amendment to Illinois House Bill 547, and saw 865 plaintiffs from 87 state counties line up behind lead plaintiff Effingham County. Accuracy Firearms of Effingham to request injunctive relief to block enforcement.

And while many who are sentimentally allied with the plaintiffs might applaud the victory, they might also be frustrated by the fact that the plaintiffs argued the case on very narrow grounds, rather than on the bedrock landscape of the natural right to self-defense and on the Second Amendment prohibition against any level of government infringing on the right to keep and bear arms.

Related: Second Circuit Appeals Court REINSTATES New York Gun Grab | MRCTV

As Cam Edwards reports for Bearing Arms, the suit was:

“…based primarily on how the law was passed, with plaintiffs arguing that the state legislature violated several laws of their own by rushing to enact the law before the end of the lame-duck session earlier this month in addition to making a case that the law violates the equal protection clause of the state’s constitution.”

The win is mostly based on the technical side – on the judge’s agreement that the process was improper.

Edwards notes that Judge Morrison…

“…agreed with the plaintiffs and their attorney Thomas DeVore, or at least decided their arguments are likely to prevail at trial. And if the law remains enforceable against the hundreds of county residents bringing the lawsuit, even for the time being, Morrison believes there’s a very good chance that their rights will be irreparably harmed.

‘Plaintiffs are being immediately and irreparably harmed each day in which their fundamental right to bear arms is being denied and that this harm is continuing in nature,’ Morrison wrote, elaborating that the new ban not only harms gun owners but firearms retailers, who may be “restrict[ed in] their ability to pursue their current profession.’”

But that determination of harm pertains to whether the plaintiffs have standing to ask for injunctive relief. For Morrison, disqualification of Ptizker’s pet statute rested on the plaintiffs’ argument that the gun-grab was not passed “properly.”

Writes Edwards:

“The judge believes that DeVore’s argument that the state violated its own ‘single subject’ rule is likely to win on the merits, pointing out that the ‘Protect Illinois Communities Act’ doesn’t just confine itself to firearms and magazines, but also has an item related to drug and human trafficking. Additionally, Morrison notes that the bill’s short description of the bill refers to it as dealing with ‘Insurance Code – Private Adjusters’, because that’s what the legislation was originally about before lawmakers gutted it and replaced it with their gun and magazine ban language in an attempt to speed it through the lame-duck session of the legislature.”

Rights were not the primary factors in the judge’s decision.

In fact, the plaintiffs argued only one facet of the many rights violations the new statute commits.

“While DeVore made the process challenge the crux of his argument, he did raise equal protection claims, and Morrison believes the plaintiffs have a strong case there as well. The gun and magazine ban includes a carveout for those who can, in essence, show ‘good cause’ to possess them; something that the Effingham County judge says looks a lot like the ‘good cause’ standard for concealed carry that the Supreme Court rejected in NYSRPA v. Bruen.”

The key Second Amendment attack that the statute represents has not been the focus of either the suit or the judgement, and, as Edwards observes:

“One big caveat to Morrison’s ruling: it does NOT have the force of law throughout the entire state, or even all of Effingham County. The new law cannot be enforced against the 860-or-so plaintiffs at the moment, but that’s it.”

And he notes:

“While Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul will appeal Morrison’s decision, the TRO will remain in effect for the time being, and next week could bring the first hearing taking on the law in federal court. “

There, the highly politicized “appointments” of federal judges no doubt will come into play.

Offering us food for thought about how tenuous our rights are in the hands of any branch of government.

Related: Obama Judge Denies NY Jews a Temporary Stop of Hochul’s Ban On Guns In Synagogues | MRCTV