SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – A judge issued a temporary restraining order Friday blocking the new Illinois law banning assault-style weapons and high-capacity magazines.
Effingham County Judge Joshua Morrison issued the order after former Republican candidate for attorney general Tom DeVore sued to block the law. DeVore said he’s representing hundreds of people from dozens of counties who argue the law violates their constitutional rights.
Morrison’s ruling only applies to 850 plaintiffs listed in the lawsuit in Effingham County and four licensed gun dealers.
Gov. JB Pritzker said he was not surprised by Morrison's ruling.
“Although disappointing, it is the initial result we’ve seen in many cases brought by plaintiffs whose goal is to advance ideology over public safety," Pritzker said. "We are well aware that this is only the first step in defending this important legislation.”
Pritzker said he remains confident the courts will uphold the constitutionality of the law.
“The Court finds the Plaintiffs have shown a likelihood of success in relation to the equal protection clause of the Illinois Constitution,” Morrison wrote in his 11-page ruling.
DeVore told the Chicago Tribune he believes that the judge “like many people in the state of Illinois have had enough of this.”
“If the General Assembly wants to pass a law then do it in the wide open, don’t do it like thieves in the night and let everybody know what they’re doing and see what they’re doing and give them a chance to participate,” DeVore said. “And I think that’s what the judge was trying to say and I look forward to this case as it continues.”
In his ruling, Morrison cited a landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision from last year that struck down New York state’s concealed carry law. That 6-3 ruling in New York Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen found that the “plain text” of the Second Amendment protected the right of the plaintiffs in that case to carry firearms for self-defense.
“Due to the speed with which this bill was passed, the effect to protected classes could not have been considered, nor could the Legislature have studied if this was the least restrictive way to meet their goal,” Morrison also wrote.
Pritzker signed the law on Jan. 10 in response to the mass shooting that killed seven and injured 30 at the Highland Park July Fourth parade. The law bans dozens of specific types of rapid-fire handguns and rifles, .50-caliber guns, attachments and limits cartridges to 10 rounds for long guns and 15 rounds for pistols.
Attorney General Kwame Raoul's lawyers argued the restraining order should be denied in part because the merits of the lawsuit would fail in court. The record will show the legislation was read publicly three times, that it covers a single subject — guns — and that the plaintiffs show no evidence that the exemptions for possessing the restricted weapons are doled out unfairly.
"The act’s exceptions for professionals with specialized firearms training and experience, such as law enforcement and members of the military, easily survive rational basis scrutiny," the state's response said.