The unanimous approval by the Deerfield, Illinois, Village Board of Trustees of a nearly complete ban on all manner of loosely defined “assault weapons” last Monday night has made headline news. It has also generated at least two lawsuits complaining that the law, to become effective June 13, is unconstitutional under Illinois state law.In addition, the ban has generated significant pushback from enraged citizens who are threatening to ignore the law if it becomes effective.
The Chicago Tribune explains the extent of the ban and its definition of an “assault weapon”:
In the Deerfield ordinance, the definition of an assault weapon includes, among others, semiautomatic rifles that have a fixed magazine with a capacity to accept more than 10 rounds of ammunition; shotguns with a revolving cylinder; and semiautomatic pistols and rifles that can accept large-capacity magazines and possess one of a list of other features. Among the dozens of specific models cited are the AR-15, AK-47 and Uzi, according to the ordinance.
The law, according to Mayor Harriet Rosenthal and the other trustees on the board, is intended to “increase the public’s sense of safety” notwithstanding “potential objections … or the enforceability of such a ban.” In other words, the law is the worst kind of “feel good” legislation passed without regard for its potential unanticipated or unintended consequences. It was designed to placate an anti-gun student from Deerfield High School, one Ariella Kharasch who, after passage, told the trustees, “This is our fight. This is our generation’s fight, and we’re going to keep fighting. Thank you for being part of that.”
And then Kharasch added ominously, “If Highland Park, if Deerfield, if more towns say no to this type of weapon, maybe the state of Illinois says no. Maybe the federal government says no.”
The chances that this nascent law is stillborn are between excellent and certain. The National Rifle Association (NRA) announced on Wednesday it would be financially and logistically supporting an Illinois-based pro-gun group, Guns Save Life, in its lawsuit to stop the law from going into effect. The next day the Second Amendment Foundation (SAF) announced it had already filed a lawsuit in the 19th Judicial Circuit Court in Lake County along with the Illinois State Rifle Association (ISRA). SAF’s Executive Vice President Alan Gottlieb explained:
We moved swiftly to challenge this gun ban because it flies in the face of state law. While the village is trying to disguise this as an amendment to an existing ordinance, it is, in fact, a new law that entirely bans possession of legally-owned semi-auto firearms, with no exception for guns previously owned, or any provision for self-defense.
The new ordinance also provides for confiscation and destruction of such firearms and their original capacity magazines. What is particularly outrageous about this new law is that it levies fines of up to $1,000 a day against anyone who refuses to turn in their gun and magazines or move them out of the village by the time the ordinance takes effect in June. This certainly puts the lie to claims by anti-gunners that “nobody is coming to take your guns.”
Locals pushed back as well. Joel Siegel, who lives in Lincolnwood, told residents that “there’s an ancient and honored American tradition called disobeying an unjust law.… I have urged [people] to listen to their consciences and if so moved not [to] obey this law.”