January 20, 2020
The Illinois General Assembly officially started the Spring Session January 8th, . There hasn’t been much work on legislative bills yet as the Senate has been in the process of selecting a new President for that body. As far as moving legislation, things should begin to pick up in the next week or so. Now that both medical and recreational cannabis are legal in Illinois, there are several things gun owners should keep in mind if they choose to participate.
Since cannabis is still a schedule I drug and illegal under federal law, the use of it is a prohibitor when it comes to a federal firearms background check. When a firearm is purchased from or through a federal firearms dealer (FFL), the buyer must complete Form 4473, on which the buyer must answer a question about habitual cannabis use. If the buyer admits to habitually using cannabis, it will prohibit the FFL from completing the transaction.
In Illinois, with our FOID card requirement, when a buyer purchases a firearm from an FFL, the seller communicates the buyers FOID information to the Illinois State Police (ISP) for a background check. The ISP performs not only a name based criminal history check on the buyer but also runs the individual in the FBI’s National Instant Check System (NICS). Here’s where it gets tricky. Participants in the medial marijuana program are issued a medical marijuana card in order to purchase from a dispensary. Illinois disregards federal law and does not automatically revoke a FOID when an individual gets a medical cannabis card. However, the federal government will still prohibit the firearm transfer based upon the cannabis prohibitor. This doesn’t stop a buyer with a medical marijuana card (and a FOID) from walking into a Walmart or other retail outlet and purchasing ammunition, as there is no background check on ammunition purchases. The medical marijuana card just acts as a prohibitor for firearms transactions when the sale is through an FFL.
And it gets even murkier. Several years ago, Illinois enacted legislation which mandates a background check in a private party (No FFL involvement) firearms transaction. One individual selling a firearm to another mandates the seller enter the buyer’s FOID information into the ISP website and only proceed with the sale if the background check is clear. Now, since Illinois doesn’t want to discriminate against persons with a medical marijuana card, the ISP is recommending sellers not submit the name for a background check if the seller knows the buyer has a medical marijuana card, as the transaction would be denied by NICS. Confusing to say the least and this will not change until the federal government changes the status of Cannabis from a Schedule 1 drug.
Now that Illinois allows the legal sale of recreational cannabis, one wonders how it will affect gun owners in our state. Apparently when purchasing recreational cannabis the vendor makes a photocopy of the buyer’s identification. It is unknown what, if any affect this will have on someone’s firearms rights.
The annual IGOLD event will be held on Wednesday, April 1st. This is an extremely important event for Illinois gun owners as it allows us to make our voices heard by our legislators. A large turnout sends a message to those in the State Capitol just how many Illinoisans cherish their 2nd Amendment rights. Just look at what is currently happening in other states, especially Virginia, and you can see what we will be faced with here in Illinois if the anti-gun movement are successful at pushing their agenda here.
We will continue to post legislative updates regarding your 2nd Amendment rights as the Spring session evolves.
By all accounts the Illinois Gun Owners Lobby Day (IGOLD), held Wednesday March 27, 2019, was a great success with a huge turnout. Some estimates put the crowd beyond 7,000 2nd Amendment supporters gathering and marching to preserve their rights. As of late March, there doesn’t appear to be much progress on the many anti-gun legislative proposals at the state level. Some of the more disturbing proposals were SB 107, the semi-auto firearm ban, SB 121, which would add a .01 cent tax to every single ammunition cartridge sold in Illinois, and HB 888, which would require all FOID applicants to submit to the state a list of their social media accounts so they may be reviewed prior to obtaining a FOID or a firearm. All of these bills are in one or more committees, which at this point in the legislative session would appear they are not going to be moved on this session. When asked what happened to stall these proposals, we were advised “they were not priorities of this administration.” Frankly, the only reason they are not a priority is because there are only so many days when the legislature is in session and currently they are trying to determine which of your taxes to raise and by how much. With a super majority in both branches of the legislature and the Governor’s office, the anti-gun crowd know they can always revisit these bills if they desire. We are safe for the moment but must remain active and vigilant.
On a positive note, 0n March 22 Illinois gun owners scored a major victory as the Lake County Circuit Court threw out the Village of Deerfield’s attempt to ban so-called “assault weapons” and “high capacity magazines” within village limits (Easterday VS Village of Deerfield).
The court found that Deerfield's attempt to amend an existing firearm ordinance was a violation of state law. The ordinance would have allowed local authorities to confiscate and destroy semi-automatic rifles and standard capacity magazines possessed within village limits. The challenge was originally filed in 2018 by Guns Save Life with support from the NRA and a companion suit filed by the Second Amendment Foundation and the Illinois State Rifle Association was joined to the original by the court.
In addition, in one of the strongest judicial statements in favor of the Second Amendment to date, Judge Roger T. Benitez of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California determined on Friday that California’s ban on commonly possessed firearm magazines violates the Second Amendment. The case is Duncan vs. Becerra.
The NRA-supported case had already been up to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit on the question of whether the law’s enforcement should be suspended during proceedings on its constitutionality. Last July, a three judge panel of the Ninth Circuit upheld Judge Benitez’ decision and sent the case back to him for further proceedings on the merits of the law itself.
Judge Benitez rendered his opinion late Friday afternoon and handed Second Amendment supporters a sweeping victory by completely invalidating California’s 10-round limit on magazine capacity. “Individual liberty and freedom are not outmoded concepts,” he declared.
In a scholarly and comprehensive opinion, Judge Benitez subjected the ban both to the constitutional analysis he argued was required by the U.S. Supreme Court in District of Columbia v. Heller and a more complicated and flexible test the Ninth Circuit has applied in prior Second Amendment cases.
Either way, Judge Benitez ruled, the law would fail. Indeed, he characterized the California law as “turning the Constitution upside down.” He also systematically dismantled each of the state’s purported justifications for the law, demonstrating the factual and legal inconsistencies of their claims. This is great news for firearms owners all over the United States, not just California.
As membership in the National Rifle Association (NRA) is mandatory for membership in the ALGC, please make sure you renew your membership when it is due. In addition, the Illinois State Rifle Association is a fantastic organization which fights for your rights every day and is deserving of your membership if you are not already a member. You can be certain the anti-gun people give huge monetary donations to candidates who support their agenda. In order to protect our rights, we as supporters of the 2nd Amendment need to support those candidates who fight for us. In addition, you can be certain those who are working against us take notice when they see membership numbers of the NRA and ISRA grow. Please do what you can to help preserve our rights.
ALGC Legislative Director
The Illinois legislature has been very busy in the last few weeks, successfully passing into law bill which raises the minimum wage in Illinois, and they are working on other legislation to increase taxes, legalize recreational use of cannabis and many other issues. Regarding firearms, SB 107, sponsored by Senator Julie Morrison (D-29), would brand many modern semi-automatic rifles, semi-automatic handguns, and shotguns commonly owned by law-abiding citizens as “assault weapons” and ban them along with spare parts and accessories.
Some examples to be banned include:
Status: This bill has been assigned to the Judiciary Committee but there has been no action taken since January 31. Another much talked about proposal, this time from Representative Dan Didech, HB 888 amends the Firearm Owners Identification Card Act. It provides that the Department of State Police shall conduct a search of the purchasers' social media accounts available to the public to determine if there is any information that would disqualify the person from obtaining or require revocation of a currently valid Firearm Owner's Identification Card. Provides that each applicant for a Firearm Owner's Identification Card shall furnish to the Department of State Police a list of every social media account. This bill was advanced to the Firearms and Firearms Safety Sub-committee on February 19th.
These are just a few of the many new proposals in the 2019 Spring legislative session which attempt to curb our 2nd Amendment rights. Quite a few of them have been submitted several years in a row and always fail to gain traction for one reason or another. At the time of this update, early March, there is plenty of time for the legislature to get serious about some of these proposals before the session ends.
The annual Illinois Gun Owners Lobby Day will be Wednesday March 27 at the Bank of Springfield (Convention Center). Doors open at 10:30 a.m. and the program will begin at 11:45 a.m. The keynote speaker will be David Keene, former NRA President.
At the national level, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 8, a bill which would mandate Universal Background checks prior to selling someone a firearm, even private transactions. Prior to passing out of the House, an amendment was successfully added which requires ICE to be notified if an illegal immigrant fails to pass the background check when attempting to purchase a firearm. Most are confident the Senate will not pass this bill at this time. It should be noted Illinois already has such legislation.
ALGC Legislative Director
Last July, Governor Bruce Rauner signed House Bill 2354, the so-called "red flag" bill that allows guns to be taken away from people who pose a threat to themselves or others. He also signed Senate Bill 3256, which imposes a 72-hour waiting period to purchase all guns, not just handguns. The new law allows either an immediate family member or the police to go to court if they fear a person with access to guns is likely to do something violent. If the court determines the person poses a threat to himself or others, it can order the person's guns be temporarily removed by law enforcement.
Under the legislation, if the court orders a person to surrender their guns, it is for a six-month period. However, the police and family members can seek an extension if they think a person still poses a threat.
The law allows the guns to be turned over to a family member or friend, but that family member must sign an oath not to return them until after the order expires. This is intended to prevent another situation like Waffle House shooter Travis Reinking whose father took away guns he owned because of strange behavior, but then returned them.
The Red Flag Law allows family or police to petition the court for an ex parte order (Restraining order or an order that benefits only one side in a case) if the person:
“poses a significant danger of causing personal injury to himself/herself or another by having in his/her custody or control, owning, purchasing, possessing or receiving a firearm.”
This new law would allow family or police to take away a person’s right to own a firearm without their knowledge if they are deemed “too dangerous.”
The law would also allow police easy access to search warrants to search homes and seize weapons if the court has reason to believe the banned person has guns. Additional information regarding these two new statutes is posted on the ALGC website.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives issued a rule change in December 2018 that classified bump stocks — devices used to accelerate rate of fire of semi-automatic rifles — as machine guns, which are illegal. Gun Owners of America (GOA) immediately issued a court challenge against the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives (BATFE) over the administrative rule change which is pending.
On a positive note, on January 3rd, the first day of the 116th Congress, Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-SC-03) introduced the Hearing Protection Act (HPA) of 2019. An enhanced version of previous HPA’s, this legislation includes several suppressor related technical amendments that were first incorporated into the SHARE Act of 2017. The primary focus of the bill is to remove suppressors from the National Firearms Act (NFA), making it easier for law-abiding hunters and sportsmen to protect their hearing while at the range or in the field.
In addition, Senator John Cornyn, TX, has introduced Senate Bill 69 which would eliminate the confusing patchwork of state carry laws by allowing individuals who possess concealed carry licenses or who are not prohibited from carrying concealed in their home state to exercise those rights in any other state that provides a lawful means of concealed carry for its own residents.
This legislation would not override state laws governing the time, place or manner of carriage or establish national standards for concealed carry. Individual state gun laws would still be respected. If under federal law a person is prohibited from carrying a firearm, they would continue to be prohibited from doing so under this bill.
Democrats lead by U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein on Wednesday January 9th, rolled out their most sweeping assault weapons ban proposal since 1994.
The planned Assault Weapon Ban of 2019 targets the sale, transfer, manufacture, and importation of “military-style assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines,” as defined by the California Democrat and her co-sponsors, Senators Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut.
“This past year, we’ve seen Americans rise up and demand Congress change our gun laws. Banning assault weapons would save lives,” said Murphy, who in the past has spoken out against what he termed “the imaginary 2nd Amendment.”
Besides outlawing 205 gun models by name — Feinstein’s original 1994 ban only listed around 20 specific models — the proposal would also define an “assault weapon” as a semi-automatic with a detachable magazine that included one of a list of cosmetic features that are deemed “military characteristics” such as a threaded barrel, pistol grip or folding stock. This is less lenient than the previous ban which allowed a “features test” that included two such characteristics.
In addition, the measure would expand federal law to ban adjustable stocks, Thordsen-style stocks such as used in “featureless rifles” marketed in states like California, “assault pistols” that weight more than 50-ounces when unloaded, and popular pistol stabilizing braces that have become widespread in recent years. Detachable magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds would be prohibited from transfer and guns grandfathered when the ban takes effect would be required to be locked up when not in use. A background check would be mandatory for future sale or gifting of grandfathered guns, even between two private parties.
Joining Feinstein in her effort to “get these weapons of war off our streets,” are at least 25 other Democrats in the Senate, including our own Senator Tammy Duckworth who have promised to sign on to the legislation. However, with Republicans in charge of the chamber, it is unlikely the measure will make it out of committee without bipartisan support.
The Spring legislative session of the Illinois General Assembly began Wednesday January 9th. With the Illinois House, Senate, Executive Officers and the Governor’s Office all under the control of one the party which historically has championed legislation curbing Illinois residents 2nd Amendment rights, we are in for a bumpy ride. While the General Assembly has numerous issues needing to be addressed such as crushing debt, property tax relief, legislation to allow recreational use of cannabis and gambling expansion, no doubt they will also soon be introducing new gun control legislation.
UPDATE: Newly inaugurated governor J.B. Pritzker signed hold-over legislation from the last session; SB337 will impose massive bureaucratic regulations on Illinois FFLs.