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Gov. JB Pritzker signs Illinois assault weapons ban

Assault weapon ban takes effect with Gov. JB Pritzker's signature
Assault weapon ban takes effect with Gov. JB Pritzker's signature 00:58

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (CBS) -- Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker signed a statewide ban on assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines Wednesday night, after the state Senate and House approved the legislation.

The House voted 68-41 to approve the ban Tuesday afternoon. The bill passed 34-20 in the Illinois Senate on Monday.

The legislation took effect immediately with Pritzker's signature.

Before signing the bill, Gov. Pritzker raised the memory of the July 4th parade massacre in Highland Park last year – which left seven people dead and 36 injured, and left a 2-year-old boy parentless and wandering around.

The shooter used legally-purchased semiautomatic weapon.

Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker signs assault weapons ban 36:37

Pritzker said the massacre was allowed to happen "all because our state and our nation have been held hostage by the NRA and their allies time and time again.

"After nearly every mass shooting, we've seen efforts to ban dangerous weapons thwarted – and then leaders send their thoughts and prayers, while the they throw  their hands up – resigning themselves to the idea that gun violence is a sacrifice that Americans must accept," Pritzker said. "But it doesn't have to be that way."

Pritzker emphasized that he and members of the Illinois General Assembly have been battling the gun lobby to pass gun safety legislation for years and with some success – but until now, bans on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines have been elusive.

Pritzker noted that while most attention has gone to "weapons of war" such as AR-style rifles like the one used in Highland Park, many mass shootings also involve handguns modified by switches that turn them into automatic weapons. Such a modified handgun was used mass shooting in May of last year that killed two people and wounded seven outside the McDonald's at Chicago Avenue and State Street, Pritzker noted.

"Gun violence is an epidemic that is plaguing every corner of this state and the people of Illinois are demanding substantive action. With this legislation we are delivering on the promises Democrats have made and, together, we are making Illinois' gun laws a model for the nation," House Speaker Emanuel "Chris" Welch, Senate President Don Harmon, and Gov. Pritzker said in an earlier joint statement Monday night after Illinois Democrats reached a deal to approve the legislation.

Welch, Harmon, and Lt. Gov Juliana Stratton also spoke and thanked advocates before Pritzker signed the bill.

Passage of the assault weapons ban came down after almost five full days of backroom discussions and debate, after the House passed a slightly different version of the legislation last week. The clock had been ticking to pass the ban before current lawmakers leave office and newly-elected ones are sworn in Wednesday.

Illinois Assault Weapons Ban by Todd Feurer on Scribd

Pritzker had said he wanted the bill passed by Tuesday, so he could sign it before the end of the current legislative term.

Illinois House gives final approval to assault weapons ban 02:45

Speaker Welch (D-Hillside) said the legislation bans the sale, delivery, and purchase of assault-style weapons and high-capacity magazines in Illinois. Long guns will be limited to 10 rounds per magazine and handguns cannot have more than 15 rounds.

"This legislation includes a comprehensive, detailed, and updated list of assault weapons subject to the ban," Welch said.

The bill also bans the possession and use of rapid-fire devices that increase the firing rate of semiautomatic weapons.

"That's something we should really be proud of. That's historic," Welch said. 

Illinois Senate passes assault weapons ban 34-20 02:28

Those already owning guns on the assault weapons list will be allowed to keep them, but would have to register them with the Illinois State Police. It would still be legal for current owners to possess such weapons on their own private property, at gun ranges, in designated hunting areas, and in other locations.

The bill will in addition expedite the implementation of universal background checks, but would not change the age range for Firearm Owners Identification cards.

Senate President Harmon (D-Oak Park) introduced the final version of the bill in committee Monday morning. On Sunday, Welch said the House would not accept a watered-down version of the bill, but on Monday evening, Welch, Harmon, and Pritzker said they had reached a deal on the legislation, and the Senate approved the bill by a 34-20 vote on Monday.

Opponents of the legislation have said it would do nothing to reduce violent crime in Illinois.

"People who break the law, people who commit violent crime are not going to register their firearms, are not going to turn in their magazines. This will not stop that crime. What will happen is law-abiding gun owners will be yet again impacted by laws in this General Assembly, yet again have their Second Amendment rights restrained," Illinois State Rep. Patrick Windhorst (R-Metropolis) said during Tuesday's debate.

Some Republicans even went so far as to say they would openly defy the ban.

"We will not comply, and you're not going to do a darn thing about it, because the law, the Constitution, and the founding principles are on our side," said Illinois State Rep. Blaine Wilhour (R-Beecher City).

Outgoing Illinois State Sen. Darren Bailey (R-Xenia), who lost the governor's race to Pritzer, tweeted, "I'll die on my front porch before anyone takes my guns away. My message to Springfield: If you want my guns, come get them."

The bill also met with strong opposition from some state House lawmakers.

"The only thing in this bill is it's placing a burden on law abiding citizens," said state Rep. Dan Caulkins (R-Decatur).

"This will greatly impact 2.4 million FOID card law abiding citizens in the state of Illinois that strongly believe in their second amendment rights," said state Rep. Thomas Bennett (R-Pontiac).

Those opposed to banning assault-style weapons say as soon as Gov. Pritzker signs the bill into law, lawsuits will start flying challenging it as unconstitutional. But that threat did not stop supporters from celebrating what they describe as a hard-fought victory.

"This is the first time we've gotten to a floor vote – and it's about time," said Illinois state Sen. Julie Morrison (D-Deerfield), whose district includes Highland Park.

Morrison has introduced similar bills in the past. She talked about the trauma of being at the Highland Park July 4th parade.

Legal challenges promised if Illinois passes assault weapons ban 02:37

Dan Eldridge, president of the Federal Firearms Licensees of Illinois and the owner of Maxon Shooter's Supplies in Des Plaines, said "we'll react accordingly" after opposing the bill.

His store saw a surge in gun sales last weekend compared to the same weekend in 2022. 

"Rifles are running at 10 times the rate as last year. So obviously law-abiding gun owners are concerned," he said.

Eldridge said, thanks to the 72-hour waiting period for all firearms transactions, they should be able to complete any sales that we're initiated before the bill is officially signed, but they will have to remove those magazines from the package, and provide the firearm to the customer without the magazine.

Meantime, he expects courts eventually will side with gun owners, and reject the ban.

"We anticipate that we will simply retain possession of those magazines, in anticipation of the dealer lobby group getting injunctive relief against this bill in federal court, which should happen fairly quickly, and then we'll contact customers and let them collect the rest of their property," he said.

And Harmon is ready for a fight, saying he's confident the law will be upheld as constitutional.

"We'll see you in court," he said.

And some lawmakers say there is more work to be done.

"Until such time that we begin to make a serious investment in the South and West sides and other poor communities around this state, we'll be back," said state Rep. Mary Flowers (D-Chicago). "We'll be back."

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