Illinois judge temporarily blocks state ban on sale of semiautomatic weapons

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By Steve Gorman

(Reuters) – An Illinois judge on Friday temporarily blocked a newly enacted state ban on many semi-automatic firearms, a measure lawmakers quickly passed after a gunman killed seven people and wounded dozens with an AR-15-type rifle during a parade on 4th of July near Chicago.

In granting a restraining order, Circuit Court Judge Joshua Morrison sided with hundreds of plaintiffs challenging the law on the grounds that unconstitutional legislative maneuvers were used to gain its approval in the state’s democratically controlled General Assembly.

The ban was passed by the legislature earlier this month and was immediately signed into law by Governor JB Pritzker, also a Democrat, who had pushed for its implementation in the wake of last year’s Independence Day massacre in Highland Park and other mass shootings in the region. whole country.

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By vowing to challenge the ban, the head of the Illinois State Rifle Association said the gun measure would hinder nearly 2.5 million gun owners in the state.

Plaintiffs are likely to succeed on their claim that legal regulations were circumvented when a bill to change insurance codes was abruptly stripped of its substance and used as a wrapper for the gun measure without being heard, the judge ruled.

“The defendants in this case have not followed the procedural requirements necessary to make this legislation withstand the strict scrutiny required in limiting rights to prevent, by definition, irreparable harm,” Morrison wrote.

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He noted prosecutors’ claims that the legislative tactics in question violated a constitutional right to bear arms, a point that Pritzker and Attorney General Kwame Raoul have disputed.

Pritzker released a statement Friday saying he was not surprised by the ruling but was confident the law would eventually survive judicial review.

“While disappointing, this is the first result we’ve seen in many cases from prosecutors whose goal is to make ideology prevail over public safety,” he said.

The new law bans the sale of many types of guns that automatically load the next bullet after a shot, including semi-automatic rifles and pistols with detachable magazines. The law lists dozens of popular gun brands made by U.S. gun makers.

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Guns with more than 10 bullets and handguns with more than 15 are also prohibited, as are rapid-fire attachments and .50-caliber rifles. People who already own such guns can keep them, but must register them with the state police.

Eight other states and the District of Columbia have already enacted similar bans. Gun rights groups say the bans violate the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, “the right to keep and bear arms,” ​​and that many law-abiding Americans own such guns for self-defense, hunting and sport.

(Reporting by Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; additional reporting by Nate Raymond in Boston and Jonathan Allen in New York)

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