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Illinois AG Kwame Raoul appeals court order partly blocking assault weapons ban

Illinois AG Kwame Raoul appeals court order partly blocking assault weapons ban
Illinois AG Kwame Raoul appeals court order partly blocking assault weapons ban 00:32

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul is asking the Illinois Appellate Court to throw out a temporary restraining order issued last week by a downstate judge, partially blocking the state from enforcing its new ban on assault weapons.

A judge in Effingham County on Friday granted a temporary restraining order prohibiting the state from enforcing the ban against hundreds of gun owners and four gun dealers who filed a specific lawsuit challenging the new law.

The decision came after a lawsuit filed by a former Republican candidate for attorney general, Tom Devore. He said he's representing hundreds of people from dozens of counties who argue the law violates their constitutional rights.

Judge Joshua Morrison's ruling only applies to plaintiffs listed in the lawsuit filed in Effingham County. Accuracy Firearms of Effingham was the lead plaintiff, along with those hundreds of individuals.

Under the order, the ban will not be enforced for a total of 866 plaintiffs – four of them licensed firearms dealers, and the rest Illinois state residents from 87 counties, including Cook.

Raoul's petition to the 5th District Illinois Appellate Court argues the plaintiffs in the case are not likely to succeed on the merits of the case, and are not at risk of losing any property rights, since the ban allows current owners of assault-style weapons to keep such guns, only requiring them to register those weapons with Illinois State Police.

It's unclear how soon the court could rule on Raoul's petition.

Gov. JB Pritzker – who signed the assault weapons ban into law earlier this month – said last week he was not surprised by Morrison's decision granting a temporary restraining order partially blocking enforcement of the law.

"Although disappointing, it is the initial result we've seen in many cases brought by plaintiffs whose goal is to advance ideology over public safety. We are well aware that this is only the first step in defending this important legislation," Pritzker said in a statement

Pritzker added he remains confident the courts will uphold the constitutionality of the law, claiming it was in line with similar laws in eight other states.

Illinois Senate President Don Harmon (D-Oak Park) said in a statement, "We passed the Protect Illinois Communities Act to get dangerous weapons off the street and create a safer state. This ruling will be appealed. We look forward to our day in court to zealously advocate for our neighbors who are weary of the gun violence epidemic."

The decision comes not long after several county sheriffs throughout the state, including some in the Chicago area, announced they would not enforce parts of the law.

The law, which was passed and went into effect on Jan. 11, had been debated for years, but found renewed support following the July 4 Highland Park parade massacre last year, which left seven people dead and dozens more wounded. The 21-year-old suspect used a legally-purchased semiautomatic weapon, prosecutors said.

"It is sad that the plaintiffs in this and other cases filed feel it is more important to allow the public to access combat weapons than to protect our human right to live freely in our communities," said Highland Park Mayor Nancy Rotering in a statement. "I stand with the State of Illinois as it zealously defends the constitutionality of this law, the validity of which we are confident will ultimately be upheld."

But DeVore has said the new assault weapons is unconstitutional. At issue is how lawmakers passed it – he says, in part, by pushing it through too quickly.

"To allow our Legislature to chronically engage in this type of lawmaking has to come to an end," DeVore said.

CBS 2 Legal Analyst Irv Miller said why the lawsuit was filed in downstate Effingham County is no accident. Judge Morrison was previously State's Attorney in downstate Fayette County, and sued the state over a sweeping criminal justice reform bill on similar arguments.

He is still a plaintiff in that lawsuit, which seeks to block the law's provisions ending cash bail in Illinois.

"We have 102 counties in the State of Illinois, and they picked a county where the state's attorney who became a judge's views are pretty well known," Miller said. "So it was a pretty safe bet why it was filed where it was filed."

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