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A Federal judge declines to stay assault weapons ban ahead of January 1st registration deadline

U.S. District Judge Stephen McGlynn issued a 34-page order on Friday that declines to stay Illinois' assault weapons ban ahead of a registration deadline
Jerry Nowicki
Screenshot from McGlynn's order
U.S. District Judge Stephen McGlynn issued a 34-page order on Friday that declines to stay Illinois' assault weapons ban ahead of a registration deadline.

A southern Illinois federal judge officially declined to issue an injunction to delay the Jan. 1 registration requirement under the state’s assault weapons ban.

U.S. District Judge Stephen McGlynn issued the 34-page order on Friday.

Gun rights advocates requested an emergency injunction to halt the registration of guns and accessories covered in the legislation, known as the Protect Illinois Communities Act, or PICA, as a condition of continued possession. The gun groups argued the requirements were unconstitutional under the Second and 14th amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

Read more: What to know about Illinois’ assault weapons ban

Lawyers for Federal Firearms Licensees of Illinois, gun rights advocates, gun dealers and three individual gun owners argued that the rules governing the registration of already-owned assault weapons are vague and the state failed to give proper notice to the owners of those weapons.

The Illinois attorney general’s office asked the court to dismiss the due process claims.

“This Court will expeditiously conduct a full review of the legal challenges to PICA on the merits. This also points toward foregoing further preliminary wrangling and going straight to an exhaustive review of PICA and the Emergency Rules on the merits,” McGlynn wrote. “Additionally, Illinois FOID cardholders’ level of compliance with the registration scheme will be discernible within mere days. This overall level of compliance will likely be highly relevant to the review of certain claims on the merits.”

At a Dec. 12 hearing, McGlynn had foreshadowed that he might decline to issue an injunction.

“I think there’s a mess here, and some problems, and I haven’t made my mind up,” McGlynn said at the hearing. “But I do think that entering an injunction today may create more problems than it’s worth.”

McGlynn also dismissed the 14th Amendment claim in Friday’s order and declined to address the Second Amendment claims.

During the Dec. 12 hearing, Sean Brady, an attorney for the plaintiffs, argued that the Illinois State Police was still seeking to modify the registration rules in mid-December, underscoring the need for an injunction to halt implementation before the Jan. 1 deadline.

Assistant Attorney General Christopher Wells countered that enacting the entire statute should not be delayed due to “the inevitable questions that will follow.”

In April, McGlynn issued a separate injunction blocking enforcement of the ban and declaring it unlikely to be found constitutional. Two previous attempts to block the law in northern Illinois courts were also unsuccessful.

The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago overturned McGlynn’s ruling in June.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to issue an injunction on PICA and the 7th Circuit declined a request for a full review of a November ruling by the three-judge panel that upheld the gun ban.

Capitol News Illinois is a nonprofit, nonpartisan news service covering state government. It is distributed to hundreds of print and broadcast outlets statewide. It is funded primarily by the Illinois Press Foundation and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, along with major contributions from the Illinois Broadcasters Foundation and Southern Illinois Editorial Association.

Beth Hundsdorfer
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