Gun-rights supporters and Illinois sheriffs are lining up in opposition of a new statewide weapon ban signed Tuesday night by Gov. J.B. Pritzker.

He signed into law HB 5471, also known as the Protect Illinois Communities Act. Effective immediately, it bans certain semi-automatic firearms and standard capacity magazines holding more than 12 rounds of ammunition.

“Semi-auto and magazine bans are blatantly unconstitutional. This law violates the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens in Illinois and directly flies in the face of the Bruen decision issued by the Supreme Court seven months ago,” Dudley Brown, president of the National Association for Gun Rights, said in a Wednesday press release.

“We know this statewide ban against the most popular firearm in America is retribution for the lawsuits we filed against Naperville and Highland Park. But the anti-gun lawmakers and governor have overplayed their hand because those lawsuits are already fighting similar policies and a circuit-level pro-gun ruling will absolutely destroy this state law,” the release said.

A Colt AR-15, now legal with a bayonet mount, flash suppressor, collapsible stock and a high-capacity magazine that holds more than 30 rounds, sits on the counter of Dave’s Guns September 13, 2004 in Denver, Colorado. Between 1994 and September 13, 2004 these guns could only be sold to law enforcement and military but now it is legal for civilians to purchase them due to the expiration of the Brady Bill. (Photo by Thomas Cooper/Getty Images)

“We will continue fighting gun bans until the Second Amendment rights of every law-abiding citizen of Illinois are protected.”

“The Governor has made it clear that he intends to use the full force of the State Police and ‘all law enforcement’ to enforce his heinous unconstitutional gun ban. This cannot be allowed to stand,” said Brown.

Several Illinois county sheriffs — including Whiteside and Knox County sheriffs — released a letter Wednesday stating they will not enforce this new ban, to protect Second Amendment rights.

Whiteside County Sheriff John F. Booker

“The right to keep and bear arms for defense of life, liberty and property is regarded as an inalienable right by the people,” according to Whiteside County Sheriff John Booker.

“I, among many others, believe that HB 5471 is a clear violation of the 2nd Amendment to the US Constitution. Therefore, as the custodian of the jail and chief law enforcement official for Whiteside County, that neither myself nor my office will be checking to ensure that lawful gun owners register their weapons with the State, nor will we be arresting or housing law abiding individuals that have been arrested solely with non-compliance with this Act,” the letter says.

The lawsuits filed against Naperville and Highland Park can be found at this website. On July 4, 2022, a mass shooting occurred during an Independence Day parade in Highland Park.

The shooting killed seven people and wounded 48 others, leading in part to the state assault weapons ban.

The sheriff statements were drafted with the Illinois Sheriffs’ Association, according to Knox County Sheriff Jack Harlan.

“I’m in agreement with the Illinois Sheriffs’ Association and am supportive of new ideas and laws that will assist us in preventing and holding those accountable that wage efforts of harm and violence on others. However, HB5471 does not do that,” Harlan said by email Thursday. 

Support for the ban

Illinois Senate Democrats released the following statement about passage of the law:

“After continued negotiations between the leaders, stakeholders and advocates, we have reached a deal on one of the strongest assault weapons bans in the country,” said Senate President Don Harmon (D-Oak Park). “Gun violence is an epidemic that is plaguing every corner of this state and the people of Illinois are demanding substantive action. With this legislation we are delivering on the promises Democrats have made and, together, we are making Illinois’ gun laws a model for the nation.”

Members of the FBI Evidence Response Team Unit investigate in downtown Highland Park, Ill., on July 5, 2022, the day after a deadly mass shooting at a Fourth of July Parade. According to a lawsuit filed Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2022, in Illinois, the gunmaker Smith & Wesson illegally targeted young men at risk of violence with ads for firearms, including the 22-year-old gunman accused of opening fire on the Independence Day parade in suburban Chicago and killing seven people. (Ashlee Rezin/Chicago Sun-Times via AP, File)

House Bill 5471 bans assault weapons and high-capacity magazines from being manufactured or sold in Illinois. The comprehensive gun safety package also places a ban on rapid-fire devices intended to make semiautomatic firearms fully automatic, and increases the duration of a Firearm Restraining Order from six months to up to one year.

A Firearm Restraining Order allows the family of a gun owner or law enforcement to obtain a civil order temporarily removing the firearm and ammunition from people who pose a risk of harm to themselves or others.

In this March 30, 2020 file photo, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker speaks in Chicago during the daily update on the state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. (Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Chicago Sun-Times via AP, File)

“I’m tired of living in a world where a mass shooting needs a title so you know which one we’re referring to,” Gov. Pritzker said Monday, Jan. 9, as he embarked on his second term.

“Hospitals, high schools, homes, parades, offices – there is no place, geographic or otherwise, that has been spared from the threat of gun violence.  Whether it’s ghost guns, high powered semi-automatic rifles, or modified rapid-fire handguns, dangerous weapons are putting families and law enforcement at risk.

“Now, I’m a firm believer that government functions best when we look for compromise.  But I’m done with the NRA having its way when it comes to mass shootings,” Pritzker said. “Why do we allow anyone to easily purchase a rapid-fire, high-capacity weapon that can kill dozens of unarmed people in under a minute?

“When I campaigned for reelection and promised to pass an assault weapons ban, eight states already had one.  Very soon, Illinois must be the ninth. And we ought to have a real accounting of the assault weapons currently in circulation. Let’s get it done, and then the federal government should follow our lead.”