EXCLUSIVE — The National Rifle Association filed a lawsuit Tuesday against the state of Illinois over its recent gun control law that the group says is “unconstitutional” and a “blatant violation” of constitutional rights.
“The NRA will not stand by while activist politicians pass unconstitutional laws that do nothing to promote public safety. We sued the state of Illinois because this new law is a blatant violation of Americans’ Second Amendment rights,” Jason Ouimet, executive director, NRA-ILA, told Fox News Digital.
The Illinois Senate passed its version of the “Protect Illinois Communities Act” earlier this month, banning so-called assault weapons and high-capacity magazines from being manufactured or sold in the state.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker then signed the bill into law, prohibiting the manufacture and sale of semiautomatic rifles and pistols, .50-caliber guns, as well as attachments that can increase a gun’s fire rate. The law also requires residents to register their banned firearms.
“The Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled that the Second Amendment protects firearms that are in common use,” Ouimet continued in his comment to Fox News Digital. “AR-15s are the most popular rifle in America with millions being lawfully used every day. In fact, in 2020, more than three times as many AR-15s were sold as Ford F150s. Further, less than 2 percent of all gun crime is committed with these types of rifles. The governor signed this bill to advance a political agenda, not to protect his constituents.”
Ouimet was citing a federal judge in California who ruled in 2021 that California’s ban on so-called assault weapons was unconstitutional, and included in his ruling that F-150 pickup trucks were wildly popular in 2018, with 909,330 vehicles sold, but that “twice as many modern rifles were sold the same year.”
Ouimet added in comment to Fox News Digital that the lawsuit, which comes two weeks after legislation was signed into law, that the “NRA has worked diligently to put together the strongest lawsuit possible.”
“While some rush to file litigation first out of the gate, we work to file the strongest legal challenge, one that will withstand the lengthy litigation process,” he said. “We filed Bruen in February 2018, and the Supreme Court did not issue its ruling on that case until June 2022. We know firsthand that filing the right suit is paramount to making sure that we have the best chance at the best outcome for our members and gun owners.”
The NRA and other Second Amendment advocates have argued that the ban targets commonly-owned and purchased firearms and magazines, violating the Constitution.
More than six dozen sheriffs have also come out against the law, vowing to defy the bans they have also characterized as unconstitutional.
“Part of my duties that I accepted upon being sworn into office was to protect the rights provided to all of us, in the Constitution,” Edwards County Sheriff Darby Boewe said in a recent Facebook post.
“One of those rights enumerated is the right of the people to KEEP and BEAR ARMS provided under the 2nd Amendment. The right to keep and bear arms for defense of life, liberty and property is regarded as an inalienable right by the people.”
The sheriff of DuPage County, Jim Mendrick, added in his own statement this month: “neither myself nor my office will be checking to ensure that lawful gun owners register their weapons with the State, nor will we be arresting or housing law-abiding individuals that have been arrested solely with non-compliance of this Act.”
He is now coming under fire from lawmakers who say he doesn’t have the authority to override laws.
“He’s going to put the police officers that are there to protect them directly in the line of fire,” Democratic Illinois Rep. Sean Casten said Monday at a press conference, according to Fox 32. “The sheriff’s position is dangerous and unconstitutional.”
Mendrick fired back that, “there is absolutely nothing that we are doing or not doing that would make a mass shooting more accessible in DuPage County.”
“In fact, I have asked on multiple occasions to increase penalties on all existing gun crimes, but it does not appear that they want to have that conversation. They seem more concerned with lawful gun owners than people illegally possessing guns,” the sheriff added.
Pritzker’s office slammed the sheriffs vowing to not enforce the law in comment to Fox News Digital last week, calling their statements “political grandstanding at its worst.”
“The assault weapons ban is the law of Illinois,” Pritzker’s office told Fox News Digital on Monday. “The General Assembly passed the bill and the Governor signed it into law to protect children in schools, worshippers at church, and families at parades from the fear of sudden mass murder.”
“Sheriffs have a constitutional duty to uphold the laws of the state, not pick and choose which laws they support and when. We’re confident that this law will hold up to any future legal challenges, but again, it is the current law of our state. Anyone who advocates for law, order, and public safety and then refuses to follow the law is in violation of their oath of office,” the governor’s office said.