Illinois state court allows limited pause on state's gun ban backed by Pritzker

Scott Olson/Getty Images North America/Getty Images

By Whitney Wild, Shawna Mizelle and Sydney Kashiwagi, CNN

(CNN) -- An Illinois judge on Friday granted a temporary restraining order barring the enforcement of a new Illinois gun control law against roughly 800 plaintiffs.

The law, signed by Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker last week at the start of his second term as governor, caps the sale of high-capacity ammunition magazines, bans "switches" that allow semiautomatic firearms to fire rounds automatically and "extends the ability of courts to prevent dangerous individuals from possessing a gun through firearm restraining orders."

So-called switches that effectively turn a semiautomatic firearm into an automatic firearm are already prohibited in most circumstances under federal firearms laws.

The ruling is limited to the plaintiffs -- more than 800 Illinois residents -- in a lawsuit led by Thomas DeVore, a former Republican nominee for Illinois attorney general. The plaintiffs argued that the ban violates the Illinois Constitution.

Effingham County Judge Joshua Morrison determined that the bill likely violated the plaintiffs' rights and paused the state's ability to enforce the law against the specific group.

The judge said in his ruling that state officials did not abide by the procedural requirements needed for the law to "stand up to the strict scrutiny that is required when restricting rights to avoid definitional irreparable harm."

"This legislation has used criteria to choose who can and cannot possess the weapons that without due consideration," Morrison said. "Additionally, due to the speed with which this bill was passed, the effect to protected classes could not have been considered, nor could the Legislature have studied if this was the least restrictive way to meet their goal."

The office of Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul, a Democrat, has filed a notice of appeal and will ask the appellate court to reverse and vacate the temporary restraining order, spokesperson Jamey Dunn-Thomason said in a statement following the ruling.

Pritzker said Friday he was confident the courts would ultimately uphold the law despite the judge's ruling.

"This decision is not surprising. Although disappointing, it is the initial result we've seen in many cases brought by plaintiffs whose goal is to advance ideology over public safety," Pritzker said in a statement Friday.

"We are well aware that this is only the first step in defending this important legislation," he continued. "I remain confident that the courts will uphold the constitutionality of Illinois' law, which aligns with the eight other states with similar laws and was written in collaboration with lawmakers, advocates, and legal experts."

The suit is one of several that were swiftly filed after the enactment of the new gun law, which passed largely along party lines in the state's Democratically controlled state legislature. One is filed in the Southern District of Illinois by multiple gun-rights groups and another was filed in Crawford County. Both are presently awaiting court dates.

Pritzker on Wednesday pushed back against the lawsuits, telling CNN's Kaitlan Collins that he is confident the law will stand up in court because Illinois is the ninth state in the US to enact a so-called assault weapons ban.

"The fact that there are -- have been challenges of other states' assault weapons bans. We're simply copying, frankly, what's done in other states. In fact, ours is one of the most stringent but fits within the confines of what is constitutional and acceptable. Lots of scholars have said that about our law," Pritzker said on "CNN This Morning."

In recent months, Pritzker has approved additional legislation placing restrictions on guns in Illinois.

In May, Pritzker signed legislation that prohibits individuals from selling or possessing "ghost guns," or self-assembled guns. It also ensures that all guns are serialized so that law enforcement can better trace them.

And in June, Pritzker signed another bill requiring the Department of Public Health to put together a two-year public awareness campaign on safe gun storage.

This story has been updated with additional information.

™ & © 2023 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.

Share this article: