(The Center Square) – Another temporary restraining halting enforcement of Illinois’ gun and magazine ban could be coming soon.
On Jan. 10, Gov. J.B. Pritzker enacted a ban on the sale and possession of more than 170 semi-automatic firearms and magazines of more than 10 rounds for rifles and 15 rounds for handguns. There’s also a registration required by Jan. 1, 2024, for owners of grandfathered guns bought and owned before the law went into effect.
Ten days after the new law was enacted, an Effingham County judge issued a temporary restraining order against enforcement of the new law, but it was put in place just for the 866 plaintiffs. The state appealed, and an appellate court upheld the TRO Wednesday. Thursday, a White County judge issued a TRO against the state, barring it from enforcing the law on nearly 1,700 additional plaintiffs.
Friday, a judge heard a challenge to the law filed in Macon County by state Rep. Dan Caulkins, R-Decatur, and others.
The question up to the Macon County judge is whether to issue a restraining order that covers the named plaintiffs, or the whole state. During a hearing Friday afternoon, attorney Jerry Stocks argued there is a patchwork of confusion.
Friday, during a hearing in Macon County court, attorney Jerry Stocks and attorney Darren Kinkead make arguments. After, Perry Lewin, owner of Decatur Jewelry and Pawn and state Rep. Dan Caulkins, R-Decatur, react.
Greg Bishop / The Center Square
“Already in the state of Illinois, over 75% of the sheriffs say that they won’t enforce it,” Stocks said. “You have county courts saying that they find it unconstitutional. You have a 5th District Appellate Court opinion declaring it unconstitutional on equal protection grounds. We have chaos.”
The equal protection claim is related to a carveout in the law exempting those in law enforcement and security industry, including retirees.
Stocks argued for the restraining order to be for the entire state.
Representing the state as defendants, attorney Darren Kinkead acknowledged the appellate court upholding a temporary restraining order against enforcement affects any ruling in the Macon County court, but he argued against expanding the order statewide.
“As to the authority for you to do it, it simply doesn’t exist,” Kinkead told the judge.
Kinkead argued that even granting a TRO to the association named in the Macon County case as “Law-Abiding Gun Owners of Macon County” would be problematic, as those names aren’t known.
Stocks said those names have been put on the record.
The judge took the case under advisement and said he hopes to issue a ruling soon.
After Friday’s hearing, Perry Lewin, owner of Decatur Jewelry and Pawn and a plaintiff in the case, said he and his customers are in limbo.
“So I am now not allowed to transfer that gun back to that customer depriving him or her of their already paid merchandise,” Lewin said. “It’s not fair.”
Caulkins said the judge should issue a statewide temporary restraining order.
“We should not have 600 people in one county and 1,000 people in another county and 1,100 people in Macon County, or whatever the association is,” Caulkins said. “This is equal protection. We all should be able to enjoy the rights and freedoms that are afforded to us.”
Temporary restraining orders have already been entered in Effingham County, where an appellate court upheld the ruling, and in White County, but only for the named plaintiffs in both cases.
While the orders are sticking with the argument that the law violates equal protections by carving out law enforcement, Caulkins said the issues over the procedural shortcuts the state took to pass impactful legislation must be addressed by the courts at some point.
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