In Illinois, Governor J.B. Pritzker recently addressed the stubbornly low compliance rate for the state’s new ban on modern sporting rifles.
Essentially, of the 2.4 million Firearm Owners ID (FOID) cardholders in the state, less than 0.1% have registered their so-called “assault weapons.”
Per the law, known as the Protect Illinois Communities Act, one can no longer purchase an “assault weapon.”
Current owners of said firearms can either sell them out of state, turn them over to authorities or register them with the Illinois State Police (ISP).
In a press conference last week, Pritzker explained away the compliance rate by arguing modern sporting rifles are not commonly owned by Illinoisans.
“I hate that mainstream media are picking up right-wing media talking points so let me correct you a little bit,” he told reporters.
“Yeah there are 2.4 million FOID card holders in the state of Illinois but 2.4 million people do not have assault weapons so when you talk about the percentage of people who are filing and registering it’s a much higher percentage than what you’ve cited,” Pritzker added.
Pritzker said he expects the number to increase as the Jan. 1, 2024 deadline approaches.
Pritzker then called on state Rep. Bob Morgan, an architect of the law, to respond.
Morgan indicated that the current 0.1% registration rate might be due to people awaiting the result of ongoing legal challenges to the law.
“We’re still waiting for a ruling from the federal court of appeals, some people were waiting for that but I also expect that number to increase as people recognize that they want to be law-abiding citizens and they want to be consistent with state law,” said Morgan, referencing the fact that failure to register by the deadline results in the loss of one’s FOID card.
A report from CBS 2 Chicago found that the total disclosures was at 7,067. See its chart below:
Mark Oliva, from the National Shooting Sports Foundation, criticized Pritzker’s stance in an email to GunsAmerica.
Oliva accused the governor of misrepresenting the nature and use of modern sporting rifles, asserting they hold significant defensive value. Oliva urged that focus should shift to criminal activity rather than restricting law-abiding gun owners.
“Illinois lawmakers and Governor Pritzker drafted this law to marginalize gun owners and create barriers to lawful firearm owners,” said Oliva. “He has done nothing to crack down on criminals that prey upon the innocent victims.”
One big question is what happens if tens of thousands of gun owners fail to comply by the deadline. Will they be prosecuted?
Illinois State Police legal counsel Suzanne Bond said at a recent public hearing that, “It will be up to each individual state’s attorney in the 102 counties to decide how they will enforce that.”
In response to that info, state Rep. Brad Halbrook (R-Shelbyville) told CBS 2 Chicago, “So if that’s the case, there’s going to be somewhere between 90 and 100 counties that I don’t think there’ll be any prosecutions – unless there’s a much bigger case to be had there.”
“I think a message at the end of the day is, I believe, hundreds of thousands of law-abiding citizens are just not going to comply with this law,” Halbrook continued. “I think it’s going to be a problem for the governor and the ISP, and ultimately the legislature, to sort out.”
If you lived in the Land of Lincoln, would you comply with the registration mandate?