GOA Asks Supreme Court To Weigh In on Illinois Rifle Ban

by Tommy Grant

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In a significant move for gun rights advocacy, Gun Owners of America (GOA), a group representing over 2 million members and activists, has formally petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to review Illinois’ controversial rifle ban, as reported by FoxNews. The law in question, the Protect Illinois Communities Act (PICA), has been a point of contention, drawing criticism for its sweeping prohibitions on a wide array of rifles and magazines owned and used lawfully by tens of thousands of citizens in the state.

The petition, filed by GOA and its affiliate, the Gun Owners Foundation, on Monday, marks a pivotal step in their ongoing challenge against what many Americans see as a blatantly unconstitutional measure. Erich Pratt, senior vice president of GOA, emphasized the organization’s preparedness to escalate the matter to the Supreme Court if necessary, underscoring the urgency of addressing the law’s restrictions on the purchase of semiautomatic firearms due to legislation passed by anti-gun lawmakers.

“We urge the Justices to hear the pleas of millions of Americans in Illinois and several other states nationwide who cannot purchase many of the commonly owned semiautomatic firearms available today because of the unconstitutional laws passed by anti-gun politicians,” Pratt told FoxNews.

The Protect Illinois Communities Act, enacted last year by Democratic Governor J.B. Pritzker, outlines stringent penalties for the possession, manufacture, sale and importation of so-called “assault weapons” or .50-caliber rifles, among other restrictions. It mandates that individuals already in possession of such firearms register them with the Illinois State Police.

The legal journey of the PICA saw a momentary victory for its challengers when District Judge Stephen Patrick McGlynn, a Trump appointee, ruled in their favor, critiquing the law for infringing upon Second Amendment rights. However, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals later reversed this decision, allowing the law to take effect on January 10, 2024.

The compliance deadline for registering affected firearms sparked confusion and a significant rate of noncompliance among Illinois’ firearm owners, as highlighted by Fox News Digital. With more than 2.4 million Firearm Owner Identification (FOID) cardholders in the state, only a fraction had complied with the registration requirement by the year’s end, showcasing the challenges and resistance faced by the law’s implementation. To be clear, not all 2.4 FOID cardholders own the affected semi-auto rifles, but it compliance among those who do was in the single digits.

Gun rights activists, buoyed by the Supreme Court filing, are hopeful for a favorable outcome that will assert the constitutional rights of gun owners against what they argue are overly restrictive and unconstitutional bans on commonly owned firearms used for a variety of legal purposes including target shooting, hunting, home defense and competition. The stance of Sam Paredes, a board member of the Gun Owners Foundation, encapsulates the sentiment of many in the gun rights community, anticipating that the Supreme Court will rectify what they see as a direct challenge to the Second Amendment by Illinois legislators.

“JB Pritzker and his colleagues in the Illinois General Assembly openly defied the Supreme Court and the Constitution when they passed their ‘emergency’ bill to ban so-called ‘assault weapons,’” Paredes told FoxNews. “We are optimistic the justices will choose to hear the case and make clear once and for all that ‘assault weapons’ bans on tens of millions of commonly owned rifles are wholly out of line with the Second Amendment.”

As the case awaits potential review by the highest court in the land, the outcome could have far-reaching implications for gun legislation and Second Amendment rights across the United States.

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