Lawmaker says state police should ‘hold off’ enforcing Illinois’ gun ban while challenges play out

(The Center Square) – With few details made public about enforcement efforts taken by the Illinois State Police over Illinois’ gun ban, some are saying the law enforcement agency should hold off until the courts deal with the legal challenges.

After the Illinois legislature approved the ban on certain semi-automatic firearms and magazines of more than 10 rounds for rifles and more than 15 rounds for handguns, Gov. J.B. Pritzker enacted the law on Jan. 10.

With most of the state’s county sheriffs saying they won’t enforce the law, Pritzker said Illinois State Police will be responsible for enforcement.

“As are all law enforcement all across our state and they will in fact do their job or they won’t be in their job,” Pritzker said.

Monday, Illinois State Police confirmed it has enforced the gun ban against a seller who police allege was publicly advertising banned guns. No other details were provided other than the investigation is ongoing.

State Rep. Joe Sosnowski, R-Rockford, said he doesn’t have much else to add about what may have transpired in his district.

“I only know of one incident that was in Winnebago County of a gun store that is undergoing some sort of enforcement or some sort of action by state police,” Sosnowski told The Center Square Wednesday.

One of the last additions to Illinois’ gun ban that passed last month included a requirement that Illinois State Police “develop and implement a public notice and public outreach campaign” to spread the word about the law.

Sosnowski said he’s not sure what information has been put out by ISP to gun stores before enforcement.

ISP told The Center Square Wednesday that the agency on Jan. 10 sent information to all licensed gun dealers in Illinois with details about the gun ban.

“In addition to communications with [federal firearms licensees], ISP is developing a public outreach campaign to promote awareness of the act,” a spokesperson said. “The public outreach campaign will include information for how individuals who possessed assault weapons before the law was signed can be in compliance. ISP is currently drafting rules for how the compliance process will work.”

The law requires firearms that lawmakers defined as “assault weapons” that were in possession of owners before the ban to be registered with state police by no later than Jan. 1, 2024, with the registration window opening Oct. 1.

In Winnebago County, State’s Attorney J. Hanley said in a letter to federal firearms license holders that while the constitutionality of the law is being litigated in court, the measure is presumed constitutional “unless and until a court having jurisdiction applicable to Winnebago County finds the law unconstitutional.”

“As such, I have a legal and ethical obligation to enforce the law and will do so if necessary,” Hanley said in the letter provided to The Center Square.

Tuesday, an appellate court upheld a restraining order against the state from enforcing the ban on certain plaintiffs in an Effingham County Case. There are other pending lawsuits with TRO rulings that could be released in the days ahead.

Sosnowski said state police should refrain from enforcement of the law until the courts deal with myriad challenges.

“It would be much better if the state police would hold off and let some of these legal proceedings play out,” Sosnowski said.

The Illinois State Police said Monday the agency is “charged with upholding all state laws, including enforcement of businesses that openly violate current laws.”

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