Illinois Bans Semiautomatic Gun Sales

January 12, 2023

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) this week signed a new law immediately banning the sale of many kinds of semiautomatic weapons inside the state.

The new law, which went into effect Tuesday night, includes a ban on semiautomatic rifles and pistols with detachable magazines. The law was crafted in response to a massacre at a July 4th parade in Highland Park last year that left seven people dead and dozens of others wounded, as well as other mass shootings.

Rifles that hold more than 10 bullets and pistols that hold more than 15 were also banned, as were rapid-fire attachments and .50-caliber guns. People who already own such weapons would be allowed to keep them but must register them with state police.

Eight other states and the District of Columbia have already enacted similar bans.

The Biden Administration commended Illinois’ new law on Wednesday and said the President has “continued to press for more action to keep our homes, schools and communities safe, including federal laws requiring background checks for all gun sales and a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.”

President Biden was a Senator when Congress passed an assault weapons ban in 1994, which it let expire ten years later.

In December President Biden said he was “going to try to get rid of assault weapons” during the 117th Congress’ lame duck session. However, that never came about.

The 117th Congress did, however, pass the first gun control legislation in nearly three decades. That legislation, passed in June, came in the aftermath of the mass shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, TX where 19 children and two teachers were killed. It included enhanced background checks for gun buyers under age 21 and fortified red flag laws, but it avoided any restrictions on assault weapons—like the semiautomatic rifle used by the Uvalde gunman.

Gun control advocates also enjoyed a small victory during the Trump Administration: a 2018 ban on “bump stocks,” devices that can be attached to semi-automatic weapons to make them shoot almost as fast as automatics.

 Gun-owners rights groups, meanwhile, say the bans in states like Illinois violate the 2nd Amendment “right to keep and bear arms” and that many law-abiding Americans have such guns for self-defense, hunting and sport.

Richard Pearson, executive director of the Illinois State Rifle Association, said in a statement the ban affects nearly 2.5 million gun owners in the state and his group would sue to reverse it. “Challenge accepted,” he added.

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