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Federal judge blocks Illinois assault weapons ban

Gun sellers await next steps after judge blocks Illinois assault weapons ban
Gun sellers await next steps after judge blocks Illinois assault weapons ban 02:25

CHICAGO (CBS) -- A federal judge in Southern Illinois has blocked enforcement of the state's assault weapons ban, after an appeals court earlier this month rejected a separate request for an injunction.

U.S. District Judge Stephen P. McGlynn in East St. Louis granted an injunction prohibiting Illinois from enforcing the ban statewide, as he weighs a group of lawsuits filed by downstate gun owners and firearms dealers.

"Plaintiffs have satisfied their burden for a preliminary injunction. They have shown irreparable harm with no adequate remedy at law, a reasonable likelihood of success on the merits, that the public interest is in favor of the relief, and the balance of harm weighs in their favor," McGlynn wrote.

The Illinois law bans the sale of assault-style weapons and high-capacity magazines, and requires existing owners of those weapons to register them with Illinois State Police.

Gun rights groups claim the law violates Second Amendment protections.

Gun control advocates say it will help curb violence and protect lives.

In his ruling, McGlynn noted that the assault weapons ban was passed in the wake of the deadly mass shooting at the July 4th parade in Highland Park last summer.

"As Americans, we have every reason to celebrate our rights and freedoms, especially on Independence Day. Can the senseless crimes of a relative few be so despicable to justify the infringement of the constitutional rights of law-abiding individuals in hopes that such crimes will then abate or, at least, not be as horrific?" McGlynn wrote. "The simple answer at this stage in the proceedings is 'likely no.'"

However, McGlynn noted that granting an injunction is not the final say on the merits of the ban.

His decision comes after the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals on April 18 denied an injunction by a Naperville gun dealer to block the ban while cases challenging it wind through the courts. That gun dealer has since asked the U.S. Supreme Court to take up the case.

In light of the decision, the question is – can people buy assault weapons and high-capacity magazines in Illinois again?

CBS 2's Sara Machi called around to a dozen stores - and even sellers say they're not completely sure. But they are optimistic there is at least a window of opportunity here.

Still, opponents say this may be a short-lived win.

It has been months since Maxon Shooters Supplies & Indoor Range in Des Plaines took certain firearms and accessories from their shelves. But hours after the favorable ruling, they're expecting a surge in sales.

"We've already seen it. We've seen it with our online business this afternoon. We've seen it at foot traffic in the store; in person in the store this afternoon since the order came out," said Maxon Shooters owner Dan Eldridge. "The word spreads quickly."

Dan Eldridge is one of the plaintiffs who says they got their first win in the 29-page ruling from Judge McGlynn.

John Schmidt sits on the board for the Gun Violence Prevention PAC - or G-PAC - advocating for gun control legislation in Springfield.

"We thought there would be a lot of litigation," Schmidt said. "I'm not sure we thought there would be quite as much as we've seen."

He says his political action committee has seen its share of favorable rulings - and expects this one will soon end up in the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals.

"I think we've had the statute in effect now for four months," Schmidt said. "I don't see any emergency to reinstate those types of sales."

Schmidt expects the 7th Circuit will put the ban back in effect - an outcome Eldridge admits is possible - further driving up sales.

"There's a window where people can purchase things that they have not been able to purchase for the last three months," Eldridge said. "At the end of the window, there is some uncertainty.

At least one gun seller told Machi he is waiting for more clarification from the state before his dealership return to the shelves the specific products that were restricted by the ban. He does not expect such guidance to come before his business opens on Saturday.

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