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Effingham County lawsuit takes aim at Illinois' assault weapons ban

"No longer can the citizens sit idly by while bureaucrats destroy the very foundational fabric of our great Republic," lawyer Thomas DeVore said.

GREENVILLE, Ill. — Illinois' new assault weapons ban was presented with a legal challenge just one week after it was signed into law.

Former Illinois attorney general candidate Thomas DeVore and DeVore Law Office, LLC are representing Effingham-based Accuracy Firearms LLC in a lawsuit against the newly passed weapons ban.

Following its passage in the Illinois legislature, Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed the assault weapons ban into law on Jan. 10. It bans the manufacture, sale and possession of dozens of brands and types of rapid-fire rifles and pistols, .50-caliber guns and some attachments. 

The law allows gun owners to keep the guns they already have but requires them to register their weapons with the state.

While gun stores in Illinois, including the lawsuit's plaintiff Accuracy Firearms, can ship and sell remaining assault-style weapons and high-capacity magazines out of state, store owners said the ban will likely cost them thousands of dollars in sales.

Citing Second Amendment rights, sheriff's departments in the eastern portion of the state have objected to the law and said they would not enforce it. 

In DeVore's announcement of the lawsuit Tuesday, he said the ban "is an outright attack on the constitutional rights of lawful gun owners across the state unless one is so fortunate to be in the large group of persons who are somehow an excepted out."

The lawsuit, filed in Effingham County, lists Pritzker, Speaker of the House Emanuel Christopher Welch, Senate President Donald Harmon and Attorney General Kwame Raoul as defendants.

"No longer can the citizens sit idly by while bureaucrats destroy the very foundational fabric of our great Republic," DeVore said in the announcement."It's an honor of my lifetime to play a role in representing the people against tyranny."

Pritzker on Wednesday acknowledged those unwilling to comply with the assault weapons ban.

"It's a lot of political grandstanding by elected Republican sheriffs," Pritzker told CNN's Kaitlan Collins on "CNN This Morning." "The truth is there's nothing for them to enforce at this point ... I think you're just seeing a lot of politics, and we'll let the courts play it out."

An emergency hearing for a temporary restraining order against the law was held on Wednesday at the Effingham County Courthouse.

Devore told several reporters outside of the courthouse that there are 866 clients on this lawsuit.

He explained, four of them are licensed FFL (Federal Firearms License) dealers and 862 are citizens of the state of Illinois. 

Devore argued four different reasons why he believes the law is unconstitutional.

  • Single-subject rule
  • Three readings
  • Due process
  • Equal protection

Devore said the one that sticks out is the equal protection argument.

Devore told 5 On Your Side he believes the law exempts certain people based on employment.

"My clients' individual rights to bear arms are no different than a man or woman that works in prison system or armed forces," he added. 

On Wednesday, 5 On Your Side also stopped by Accuracy Firearms of Effingham.

Panning through the room, you can see several open spaces, where some of the now-banned firearms have been removed. 

An Accuracy Firearms staff member said, since the law went into effect, they removed 40 to 60 guns, 100 accessories and 75 magazines from the shelves.

5 On Your Side asked how much money do they expect to lose. They couldn't give a precise number, but they said it was substantial.

Representatives for the attorney general's office said Wednesday in court that the law should stand because the plaintiffs failed to present evidence of how much money they would lose and they can't prove irreparable harm.

The case now is in the hands of a judge and both sides will wait for the court's decision.

The judge said he'd get back with a decision by end of the day Friday.

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