The first hearings on a sweeping bill that would ban the sale of so-called assault weapons and require owners of “large capacity” magazines to destroy or dispose of them are underway in Illinois, with Democrats rushing to get a bill to Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s desk as soon as possible. Second Amendment advocate and Illinois resident Mike Weisman joined me on today’s Bearing Arms’ Cam & Co with details of the proposal and explained why gun owners across the country should be paying attention.
Weisman noted that the bill, at least in its current form, is sort of a hybrid of bills that we’ve already seen in states like California and New Jersey. The legislation would “permit” existing owners of so-called assault weapons to pay a fine/registration fee in order to keep them (at least until the legislature passes another bill eliminating the grandfather clause) while instructing all existing owners of “large capacity” magazines to permanently modify them to hold no more than 10 rounds or get rid of them.
The anti-Second Amendment legislation goes even further:
The bill also makes it illegal to own, purchase or possess .50 caliber rifles and cartridges, but there is language in the bill that allows owners who currently have such weapons to keep them.
The bill also contains a provision that raises the minimum age to own a firearm from 18 to 21.
There are exceptions within the bill for use or possession of weapons by individuals under the age of 21. Active-duty members of the military or Illinois National Guard may still possess weapons, as can individuals who are employed by the federal government and must carry weapons as part of their responsibilities.
Individuals under the age of 21 who wish to hunt must do so under the supervision of an adult, and that adult must also have a FOID card.
Weisman says the .50-cal ban doesn’t grandfather in ammunition, only the firearm itself, which would then become a very expensive paperweight.
The bill’s first hearing is Monday, Dec. 12. It’s widely assumed that Morgan has more than enough votes to pass his legislation after Jan. 1, when approval will only require a simple majority of 60 votes. Hirschauer is also helping line up votes.
But gun law reform groups aren’t taking any chances. A new not-for-profit group called “Protect Illinois Communities” has been formed to push for passage of the bill in both chambers.
The group will use “paid and grassroots engagement,” including TV ads, phones and direct mail, for a “well-funded” campaign that is apparently designed not only to counter groups like the National Rifle Association, but also to prod legislative Democrats to move past their reluctance and take some action. Expect a significant expenditure.
In the past, we’ve seen things like nearly identical bills advanced by each chamber, with nothing ever actually getting through both chambers and to the governor’s desk, or (as under former Gov. Bruce Rauner) only advanced to the governor’s desk in the face of a guaranteed veto that couldn’t be overridden.
So, keep an eye on the Senate, where the presiding officer has been a vociferous proponent of gun law reform his entire career, but whose caucus contains a sizable number of moderates who have wanted to shy away from such legislation.
Weisman estimates as much as 25% of the adult population of Illinois could be turned into criminals overnight simply by maintaining possession of their “large capacity” magazines if the bill becomes law. Under the current language the magazine ban would take effect immediately upon Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s signature, though the bill would grant owners of “assault weapons” between 80 and 300 days to register them with the state without criminal sanction.
“Moderates” should be shying away from this legislation, but so too should the hardcore progressives who pushed Illinois’ SAFE-T Act into law. You can’t seriously argue for de-incarceration, defunding the police, or reforming the criminal justice system while creating a brand new, non-violent possessory offense for owning an ammunition magazine; especially given the fact that the law’s enforcement is likely to disproportionately fall on young black men in Chicago. Democrats know that the “well-funded” campaigners who’ll be running ads in support of the gun and magazine ban can cut checks to their re-election efforts as well, however, so even if there are progressives who might have some qualms about the unintended consequences of their anti-civil rights legislation my guess is that the vast majority of them will stifle any potential concerns by comforting themselves with the thought of being showered in financial support from the gun control lobby.
So yeah, I agree that this terrible bill is probably going to become an absolutely wretched law, and one that will quickly be challenged in court. Still, as Weisman emphatically pointed out during our conversation, it’s still vitally important that gun owners use their voice at every step of the legislative process to challenge these unconstitutional proposals and put on the record the vast opposition on the part of We the People to the blatant infringement on a fundamental right before the gun ban goes before a judge.