SPRINGFIELD — Gov. JB Pritzker signed a sweeping measure Tuesday night that supporters called one of the nation’s strictest bans on military-style firearms, immediately banning their sale and giving current owners until Jan. 1 to register the guns’ serial numbers with Illinois State Police.
“Illinois now officially bans the sale and distribution of these mass killing machines and rapid-fire devices,” said Pritzker, who was inaugurated for a second term Monday during a ceremony at the Capitol. “I am signing this law tonight so that it can go into effect immediately and we can end the sale of these weapons of war.”
Pritzker signed the bill just hours after House Democrats led the measure to final passage by a 68-41 vote and a day after Senate Democrats approved it 34-20. Pritzker and lawmakers acted amid warnings from most Republicans and gun rights advocates that the new law was unconstitutional and would face a legal challenge.
The House vote on the gun ban came on the last scheduled day of action for the 102nd General Assembly, during which Democrats also sent Pritzker a bill that would protect health care professionals and people seeking abortion or affirmative care. gender, in Illinois from restrictive laws in other states.
The new 103rd General Assembly — all 118 members of the House and 59 members of the Senate with Democratic supermajorities in each chamber — is set to begin a new session after opening on Wednesday.
With Pritzker’s signature, Illinois became the ninth state to ban military-style firearms. Efforts to achieve the ban accelerated after a deadly mass shooting at a Fourth of July parade in Highland Park, where the alleged shooter used an AR-15-style weapon.
“We did this for all the victims, the spouses, children, parents, friends and loved ones who are no longer with us, and for those who survived mass shootings but were injured,” Pritzker said after naming seven people are killed in the parade.
“No law … will end gun violence once and for all. So we must continue to fight, vote and protest to ensure that future generations will only have to read about the massacres,” he said. “It is our burden and our mandate that we carry with solemn honor for our children who will grow up in a better and safer world.”
The new law immediately bans the supply, sale, import and purchase of so-called “weapons of war”. After Jan. 1, people who possess an unregistered firearm covered by the ban face a felony for a first offense and a felony for subsequent offenses.
The new law also immediately bans the supply, sale or purchase of high-capacity ammunition magazines with more than 10 rounds for long guns and 15 rounds for handguns. Effective April 10, current owners of high-capacity magazines will only be allowed in possession on private property, at a shooting range or competition, or at a federally licensed gun dealer for repair. Violations are subject to a $1,000 fine.
In addition, devices that increase the rate of fire of firearms, known as “switches,” to turn them into semi-automatic or automatic weapons are immediately banned, and anyone in possession of them will be charged with a felony for each device.
The new law also accelerates to July from January the existing requirement for universal background checks by federal firearms dealers or state police for private gun sales.
It also changes the state’s current “red flag” law, which allows relatives and police to seek a court-approved firearms restraining order to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people. The new law extends the term of orders from six months to one year.
Most Republicans argued that the legislation would do nothing to prevent crime, would run afoul of US Supreme Court rulings involving Second Amendment rights and would face legal challenge once it became law.
State Rep. Blaine Wilher of Beecher City, a member of the ultraconservative House Freedom Caucus, accused Pritzker and the Democratic majority of continuing to “allow our constitution and our freedoms to be shredded.”
“A government out of control, a government willing to defy our constitution, is a government that is completely out of control,” he said. “You can sit here and dictate whatever you want today. Perhaps the political winds are in your favor here today. But I can tell you that we will not comply and you will not do anything about it because the law, the constitution and the founding principles are on our side.
Democratic House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch of Hillside announced that the Democratic-controlled legislature and Pritzker had “reached an agreement on one of the strongest assault weapons bans in the country.”
“It’s time to protect Illinois communities. It’s time to protect Illinois families. Let’s end families that have to change overnight. Let’s not lose more brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles and children to gun violence,” Welch said.
Two House Republicans — outgoing House GOP Leader Jim Durkin of Western Springs and state Rep. Bradley Stevens of Rosemont — joined Democrats in voting for the bill. Three House Democrats voted against it: state Reps. Anthony DeLuca of Chicago Heights, Michael Halpin of Rock Island and Lance Yednock of Ottawa.
Senate Democrats voted 41-16 and the House followed with a 70-39 roll call to send Pritzker a measure he supports that would extend abortion and transgender protections to patients as well as health care workers who come from other states.
The measure was prompted by a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in June that struck down women’s federal right to seek an abortion and left the issue up to individual states.
Illinois has enshrined the right to abortion in state law, making it one of the most liberal states on the issue in the country. Pritzker also called on the next General Assembly to submit to voters in 2024 a proposal to enshrine abortion rights in the state constitution.
“Right now, there are states across the country that are trying to criminalize parents for seeking medical care for their children, trying to criminalize pregnant people not being able to make decisions about their bodies, states that are criminalizing people who seek help,” said state Sen. Celina Villanueva, D-Chicago.
“This bill provides protections for patients, families and providers and also ensures meaningful access to health care,” she said. “I believe this bill will save lives.”
Outgoing state Sen. Darren Bailey of Xenia, whose evangelical Christian opposition to abortion was one factor in his unsuccessful challenge to Pritzker in the Nov. 8 gubernatorial election, called the measure “pure evil” before reading a Bible verse.
“This is wrong,” he concluded. “God help us.”
The Senate legislation is closely aligned with the House proposal passed last week. Among its goals is expanding the pool of health care providers who can perform certain abortion procedures in an effort to ease access amid increased demand for services from Illinois abortion clinics.
The measure would also authorize the state Department of Public Health to partner with nonprofit organizations to administer grants for abortion education programs, with underserved areas and transportation centers given priority.
The measure also authorizes protections for the transgender community and their access to gender-affirming care.
Also Tuesday, the Legislature sent Pritzker a bill to create a “closure fund” of about $400 million to be used at Pritzker’s discretion in an effort to close deals to attract businesses to the state. The measure was approved by an 86-23 vote in the House and 40-15 in the Senate.
The measure includes a provision that would bar the governor from using some of the money to help the Chicago Bears develop a new football stadium and entertainment complex if they enter into a contract to buy the former Arlington International Raceway property.
The Bears said they won’t need public subsidies to build a new stadium, but they will need help developing the rest of the 326-acre property. Pritzker has shown no interest in providing direct public funding to help the Bears.
“If the Bears choose to move to Arlington Heights, they can’t go to the state and tell us to give us some money from the closure fund to do it,” said state Rep. Mike Zalewski, a Riverside Democrat who sponsored the measure. “I think they’re going to continue to look for sort of different ways to get relief.” I don’t know how this will look at the next AGM.
The measure would also provide additional incentives aimed at attracting suppliers of electric vehicles and vehicle components to locate in Illinois.
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