Illinois Enacts Ban on Assault Weapons and High Capacity Magazines

AP Photo/Andrew Selsky

On Tuesday night, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) signed off on a statewide ban on “assault weapons” and high-capacity magazines. The ban itself is an amendment to Illinois House Bill 547 and is called the “Protect Illinois Communities Act.” Along with banning the sale, purchase, and possession of “assault-style” weapons, which include AR-15 and AK-47 rifles, long gun magazines will be limited to 10 rounds, and handguns will have a 15-round limit. It also prohibits the possession and use of devices that increase the firing rate of semi-automatic weapons.


Illinois residents who already own guns that are on the banned list will be allowed to keep them and can use them at gun ranges, in designated hunting areas, their own private property, and “other locations,” according to CBS Chicago. But there is a catch for those gun owners who have been “grandfathered” in: those guns must be registered with the Illinois State Police. The bill expedites the process for universal background checks but does not change the age for Firearm Owner ID cards.

After five days of debate, the state Senate passed the bill 34-20 on Monday. The House approved it on Tuesday, 68-41. The bill went straight to Pritzker’s desk, where he signed it, and it took effect immediately. Pritzker referenced the July 4th shooting at a Highland Park parade which killed seven people and injured 36, including a 2-year-old child. He commented that the incident was the result of the state and the country being “held hostage” by the NRA. He stated:

After nearly every mass shooting, we’ve seen efforts to ban dangerous weapons thwarted – and then leaders send their thoughts and prayers, while they throw their hands up – resigning themselves to the idea that gun violence is a sacrifice that Americans must accept. But it doesn’t have to be that way.


Not everyone is on board. CBS reported that state Rep. Patrick Windhorst (R-118th district) noted that lawbreakers would not register their guns or turn in their magazines, adding that the only people who will be impacted will be law-abiding gun owners. State Rep. Blaine Wilhour (R-107th district) said that people will not comply “because the law, the Constitution, and the founding principles are on our side.” State Sen. Darren Bailey (R-55th district), who lost the governor’s race to Pritzker tweeted:

Other opponents predicted lawsuits.

As to background checks, the federal government has already demonstrated its inability to keep up with the process. The Chicago Tribune reports that in 2021, 797 people were murdered, and 695 were slain last year. There have been 10 homicides in 2023 as of Jan. 11. In 2022, 636 of those incidents involved guns. I will bet that the people who committed those crimes and those who will commit similar ones in 2023 did not and will have any intention of lining up to turn in their high-capacity magazines and “assault-style” weapons and apply for their Firearm Owner IDs.


Having been shot at once by a man who was having a shall we say, negative pharmaceutical experience, I understand that there are people who should not be within ten city blocks of a gun. But a ban that will by and large only impact people who obey the law in the first place probably will not solve Illinois’ problems.



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