Pritzker signs assault-style weapons ban

Gov. JB Pritzker, surrounded by legislators and gun safety advocates, signed the Protect Illinois Communities Act on Tuesday to ban assault-style weapons, attachments, and high-capacity magazines in Illinois.
Gov. JB Pritzker, surrounded by legislators and gun safety advocates, signed the Protect Illinois Communities Act on Tuesday to ban assault-style weapons, attachments, and high-capacity magazines in Illinois.

Gov. JB Pritzker signed a bill into law Tuesday evening to ban the manufacture, sale, and purchase of assault-style, semi-automatic weapons and attachments.

Pritzker noted during a bill signing press conference at the Illinois State Capitol that the General Assembly had made progress on gun legislation in prior sessions. Action on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, however, had previously eluded legislators.

"That's why today, I couldn't be prouder to say 'we got it done,'" the governor said.

The 68-41 vote on House Bill 5471, the latest version of the Protect Illinois Communities Act, in the Illinois House of Representatives preceded the signature of the governor on the last day of the lame duck session.

State Rep. Bob Morgan D- Deerfield, answers questions about House Bill 5471 on the House floor during debate Tuesday.
State Rep. Bob Morgan D- Deerfield, answers questions about House Bill 5471 on the House floor during debate Tuesday.

The vote was mostly split along party lines but again received support from exiting House Minority Leader Jim Durkin, R-Western Springs. The Illinois Senate approved the amendments 34-20 on Monday.

Recent:Senate passes version of assault-style weapons ban; Act goes to House for vote

Notably, the bill would maintain the age to get a Firearm Owner Identification Card at 18 yet also change the standard of rounds per magazine. Long guns will have a limit of 10 rounds per magazine and handguns will not be allowed to have more than 15 rounds of ammunition per magazine.

Under the bill, those wishing to keep their weapons must register them with the Illinois State Police by Jan. 1, 2024. In a previous version of the act, gunowners had 180 days after the bill's signature.

Illinois House Speaker Emanuel "Chris" Welch began the House floor debate just before 2 p.m. Tuesday, where he thanked the Senate for its passage of the bill on Monday evening. The amendments, he said, were an improvement from the earlier version of PICA passed by the House under Senate Bill 2226.

The bill was of personal importance to state Rep. Bob Morgan, D-Deerfield, who was marching in the Fourth of July Highland Park parade when the shooting began. A total of seven people lost their lives that day and another 48 were wounded that day, which prompted increased calls for gun control statewide and nationally.

"The people of the great state of Illinois have been waiting decades for legislation just like this," he said. "Let them wait no longer."

Several Republicans rose in opposition to the bill, again questioning its constitutionality and warned that many gun owners will not comply.

"We will not comply, and you're not going to do a darn thing about it, because the law, the Constitution, and the founding principles are on our side," said state Rep. Blaine Wilhour, R-Beecher City.

Democrats saw the bill as a start to address gun violence in the state, but recognized a need for further legislative action. The 103rd Illinois General Assembly begins Wednesday with the swearing-in of members of the House and Senate.

State Rep. Adam Niemerg, R-Teutopolis, put a Second Amendment sign in front of him during the debate on House Bill 5471 on the House floor Tuesday.
State Rep. Adam Niemerg, R-Teutopolis, put a Second Amendment sign in front of him during the debate on House Bill 5471 on the House floor Tuesday.

State Rep. Mary Flowers, D-Chicago, voted 'yes' on the bill but believes that financial investment in underserved communities should play a major role in reducing gun violence.

"You all are gonna walk away today and feel good about what you've done," she said, this comment earning applause from some Republicans.

Pritzker, a proponent of the legislation since it was first introduced by Morgan in December, released a statement following the vote. He thanked the legislators for their work in passing "one of the strongest assault weapons bans in the nation."

"No Illinoisan, no matter their Zip code, should have to go through life fearing their loved one could be the next in an ever-growing list of victims of mass shootings," the governor said. "This legislation will stop the spread of assault weapons, high-capacity magazines, and switches and make our state a safer place for all."

Pritzker said during the press conference that he was signing the bill that evening so it would go into effect as soon as possible.

Noting comments from some, including his former gubernatorial opponent Darren Bailey, the governor repeated comments from Welch that the bill does not take away weapons from anyone.

"It does require an accounting for the weapons currently in circulation, so we know who is responsible for them," Pritzker said.

The Illinois State Rifle Association has already promised legal action against the bill, saying in a letter to Pritzker, Welch and Senate President Don Harmon, "challenge accepted."

In a similarly short quip, Harmon said during the Monday Senate floor debate that the state "will see them in court." Both Pritzker and Morgan said on Tuesday that considerable amounts of work went into the bill to ensure its constitutionality.

The governor repeated his push for a federal ban during his inaugural address on Monday at the Bank of Springfield Center. On Tuesday, he was asked by reporters what needed to happen for such legislation to happen.

Republicans now have control over the U.S. House of Representatives, which would likely keep any major forms of gun control legislation from passing. The real influence on the matter, Pritzker said, is the gun lobby.

"We've shown that you can overcome the gun lobby," he said. "We've shown that here in Illinois; we can do that nationally."

Contact Patrick Keck: pkeck@gannett.com, twitter.com/@pkeckreporter

This article originally appeared on State Journal-Register: Pritzker signs assault-style weapons ban