Judge Blocks Illinois ‘Assault Weapons’ Ban

On April 2, an ordinance was passed in Deerfield, Illinois that would ban "assault weapons." Semiautomatic handguns and shotguns were included on the list in addition to semiautomatic rifles. Those who refused to comply with the ordinance would face fines of between $250 to $1,000 per day beginning as early as June 13.

The ordinance states in part:

Assault weapon means:

(1) A semiautomatic rifle that has the capacity to accept a large capacity magazine detachable or otherwise and one or more of the following:

(A) Only a pistol grip without a stock attached;

(B) Any feature capable of functioning as a protruding grip that can be held by the non-trigger hand;

(C) A folding, telescoping or thumbhole stock;

(D) A shroud attached to the barrel, or that partially or completely encircles the barrel, allowing the bearer to hold the firearm with the non-trigger hand without being burned, but excluding a slide that encloses the barrel; or

(E) A muzzle brake or muzzle compensator.

2. A semiautomatic rifle that has a fixed magazine that has the capacity to accept more than ten rounds of ammunition.

3. A semiautomatic pistol that has the capacity to accept a detachable magazine and has one or more of the following:

(A) Any feature capable of functioning as a protruding grip that can be held by the non-trigger hand;

(B) A folding, telescoping or thumbhole stock;

(C) A shroud attached to the barrel, or that partially or completely encircles the barrel, allowing the bearer to hold the firearm with the non-trigger hand without being burned, but excluding a slide that encloses the barrel;

(D) The capacity to accept a detachable magazine at some location outside of the pistol grip.

Handguns banned include the Calico M-110, TEC-9, and Scorpion.

The new rule took effect on April 13, and citizens were to remove the specified weapons from the designated area "before June 13," according to the Village of Deerfield’s official website.

Shortly after the ban was passed, however, the village was hit with two lawsuits – one from Daniel Easterday, and another from John William Wombacher III. Easterday was joined by the Second Amendment Foundation (SAF) and the Illinois State Rifle Association (ISRA), and Wombacher by Guns Save Life.

In a press release regarding one of the lawsuits, Second Amendment Foundation (SAF) founder and Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb said:

We moved swiftly to challenge this gun ban because it flies in the face of state law. ...

While the village is trying to disguise this as an amendment to an existing ordinance, it is, in fact, a new law that entirely bans possession of legally-owned semi-auto firearms, with no exception for guns previously owned, or any provision for self-defense.

The new ordinance also provides for confiscation and destruction of such firearms and their original capacity magazines. ...

What is particularly outrageous about this new law is that it levies fines of up to $1,000 a day against anyone who refuses to turn in their gun and magazines or move them out of the village by the time the ordinance takes effect in June. This certainly puts the lie to claims by anti-gunners that "nobody is coming to take your guns."

According to The Chicago Tribune, attorneys for the defense claim that the ordinance is simply an amendment to the Firearm Concealed Carry Act (FCCA), which was enacted in the state of Illinois in 2013, making "gun regulations the exclusive power of the state."

Deerfield has characterized the April ordinance as an amendment to an earlier ordinance that was approved within the permitted time frame [of ten days following the 2013 FCCA]. The initial ordinance defined assault weapons and required safe storage and transportation within village limits.

However, on Tuesday, Circuit Court Judge Luis Berrones issued a "temporary restraining order" against the new ordinance, noting that it was not simply an "amendment" to the FCCA.

In his conclusion in favor of the plaintiff(s), Berrones wrote in part:

The court finds that: (1) the 2018 Ordinance is preempted by the FOIDCA [Firearm Owners Identification Card Act] and the FCCA [Firearm Concealed Carry Act] and therefore unenforceable. (2) The 2018 Ordinance is a new Ordinance and not an amendment of the 2013 Ordinance and is therefore preempted by FOIDCA and FCCA. (3) The 2018 Ordinance does not prohibit ownership or possession of large capacity magazines.

The court also finds that: (1) plaintiff has raised a fair question that he has a clearly ascertainable right not to be subject to an unenforceable ordinance's restrictions, prohibitions, fines, penalties and resulting deprivation of full use and enjoyment of his property; (2) plaintiff will suffer irreparable harm absent an injunction as he will not be able to pursue a remedy that will fully compensate him if he is subject to an unenforceable ordinance whose subject matter is preempted by the State. ...

It is hereby ordered that:

1. A temporary restraining order is issued enjoining defendant Village of Deerfield, its agents, officials or police department from enforcing any provision of the 2018 Ordinance relating to the ownership, possession, storage or transportation of assault weapons or large capacity magazines within the Village of Deerfield.

A statement issued on the Village of Deerfield’s officials website Tuesday reads: "We are reviewing with our legal team the full written opinion that the Judge entered. We will, of course, honor the order issued by the Court and temporarily not enforce the ordinance; but we are certainly going to review all of the options available to the Village, including the right to appeal the decision to the Illinois Appellate Court."

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