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Illinois lawmakers approve statewide ban on assault weapons

The ban also extends to the sale, purchase and manufacture of extended ammunition magazines.

CHICAGO (CN) — The Illinois House of Representatives concluded the last day of its 2022 session Tuesday afternoon by approving a statewide ban on assault weapons and extended ammunition magazines.

The measure passed the House in a 68-41 vote with bipartisan support. The state Senate endorsed it by more narrow margins on Monday, passing it 34-20 after several amendments and without Republican support.

Democratic Governor J.B. Pritzker announced only moments after the House vote that he intends to sign the proposed ban into law.

"For a long time now, I and many other leaders in the Illinois General Assembly have prioritized getting the most dangerous weapons off our state's streets," Pritzker said in a prepared statement. "Today, honoring the commitment we made, we passed one of the strongest assault weapons bans in the nation, one I will be proud to sign."

The ban comes only months after a shooting massacre in the the Chicago suburb of Highland Park, where accused gunman Robert Crimo III allegedly emptied two full, 30-round assault rifle clips into a crowd attending the town's 2022 Independence Day parade. Crimo legally owned the rifle he allegedly used to kill seven people and injure dozens more.

Under the new law, both the rifle and the ammo clips Crimo allegedly used would be illegal. It not only prohibits the sale and unauthorized possession of assault weapons, but also immediately bans the sale and purchase of ammo magazines with capacities larger than 10 rounds for long guns and 15 rounds for handguns.

“We can no longer allow mass shootings to be part of our norm,” state Senator Julie Morrison, a Democrat who represents Highland Park, said in a prepared statement. “This is a long overdue step toward keeping communities safer.”

Illinois residents who currently own assault weapons will still be allowed to possess them on their own property and at approved sites like shooting ranges, so long as they register the guns with the Illinois State Police by the end of the year. After New Year's Day 2024, any Illinoisan found in possession of an unregistered assault weapon will be subject to escalating criminal penalties, including felony charges that carry three-year minimum jail sentences.

The law also makes some exemptions, including for private security personnel, out-of-state hunters and out-of-state residents taking their rifles to approved gun shows and shooting ranges in Illinois.

Illinois is now the ninth state to issue restrictions on assault weapons, alongside California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York. Washington, D.C., also has similar restrictions in place.

While state Democrats have largely supported the assault rifle ban, many Republicans and gun rights advocates claim the incoming law is in violation of the Second and Fourth Amendments. The Illinois State Rifle Association has already stated that it plans to challenge the new law in court.

"If this bill is signed by the governor, the ISRA will file a lawsuit and continue to fight for our 2A rights," said Richard Pearson, executive director of the ISRA, in a Monday night statement.

Prior to the bill's passage in the House, the organization went so far as to call it a "hate crime" against Illinois gun owners.

"HB5855 is not about fighting crime," the ISRA said in a statement, referring to the bill's legislative title. "None of these anti-gun bills have been about fighting crime but rather, they have been about disarming the American people. HB5855 and other bills like it are aimed directly at the law-abiding citizens. In fact, it is a hate crime against law-abiding gun owners."

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