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Pritzker signs Illinois assault weapons ban into law

Pritzker signed the bill while flanked by Illinois congressional Democrats and gun control advocates from around the state.

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed an assault weapons ban into law Tuesday night, hours after the Illinois House passed it in Springfield.

"I'm signing this legislation tonight so it can take immediate effect," Pritzker said in a press conference Tuesday night.

Pritzker announced the bill's signing while flanked by Illinois congressional Democrats and gun control advocates from around the state and across the country.

The legislation bans the manufacture or possession of dozens of brands and types of rapid-fire rifles and pistols, .50-caliber guns and some attachments. The law will allow gun owners to keep the guns they have now, but will require them to register them with the state.

Illinois gun manufacturers can continue to make assault weapons and sell them to suppliers in other states, but may not sell them to buyers in Illinois under the new proposal.  

The House vote came down mostly along party lines, though outgoing Republican leader Jim Durkin voted for the assault weapons ban. Rep. Deanne Mazzochi, who lost in November, did not record a vote, though she argued against the bill in floor debate.

After the bill passed the Senate, Pritzker released the following statement:

“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. 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."

"No Illinoisan, no matter their zip code, should have to go through life fearing their loved one could be the next in an ever-growing list of victims of mass shootings. However, for too long people have lived in fear of being gunned down in schools, while worshipping, at celebrations or in their own front yards. This legislation will stop the spread of assault weapons, high-capacity magazines, and switches and make our state a safer place for all. I look forward to signing this bill immediately, so we can stop the sale of these deadly weapons as soon as possible."

"My deepest thanks to Speaker Welch and Senate President Harmon for championing this historic legislation, and to Representative Morgan for his leadership on this issue.”

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) also wrote in support of the bill on Twitter, saying "I strongly support this common sense reform, which will help protect our families & kids from the epidemic of gun violence. Military-style weapons have no place in our neighborhoods."

Critics warn the governor’s signature will trigger court challenges which will ultimately overturn the law as a violation of the 2nd Amendment.

“A government willing to defy our Constitution is a government that is completely out of control. So you can sit here and dictate whatever you want today...," said Rep. Blaine Wilhour, a Republican from Beecher City, 97 miles northeast of St. Louis. “But I can tell you that 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.”

Republican State Sen. Darren Bailey, who represents Illinois' 55th District and ran a losing bid against Pritzker in 2022, made the following statement on Twitter: "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 would still allow people to keep the banned weapons on their private property.

Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch introduced his mother, Willie Mae Welch, who was with him on the House floor. Welch told how, as a teenager in 1985, his mother's sister was fatally shot while sitting in a car outside her church. Welch's aunt had three young girls. His parents, despite having three boys of their own, took them in. No assailant was ever apprehended.

“It’s time that we protect Illinois communities,” Welch said. “It’s time that we protect Illinois families. Let’s end families having to change overnight. Let’s not lose any more brothers and sisters, children to gun violence.”

Welch, a Democrat from the Chicago suburb of Hillside, took the lead on the measure from the original sponsor, Rep. Bob Morgan, a Democrat from suburban Deerfield who was participating in the Highland Park parade when the shooting began.

Eight states and the District of Columbia currently have bans on semiautomatic weapons, according to Tanya Schardt, working in favor of the legislation for the Brady Campaign. They differ in their definitions of semiautomatic weapons, but generally, they ban 10-round clips for both long guns and handguns. They've survived constitutional challenges in scores of courts, she said.

You can read the full text of the final version of the bill below:

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