Judge tosses Chicago suburb's assault weapons ban

A judge in Illinois ruled Friday that the Chicago suburb of Deerfield did not have the authority to enact a ban on assault weapons.

Lake County Circuit Court judge Luis Berrones issued a permanent injunction blocking the measure from being enforced, finding that the gun owners who sued have “a clearly ascertainable right to not be subjected to a preempted and unenforceable ordinance,” The Chicago Tribune reported.

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Deerfield officials said they are reviewing Berrones’s decision and may consider appealing the ruling to the Illinois Appellate Court, according to the Tribune.

“This unprecedented interpretation of state legislative action and intent make this case ripe for appeal,” village officials said in a statement. “We continue to believe that these weapons have no place in our community and that our common-sense assault weapon regulations are legal and were properly enacted.”

Trustees in the Chicago suburb voted last April to issue a ban on semiautomatic rifles, semiautomatic shotguns and semiautomatic pistols with detachable magazines that can hold 10 or more rounds of ammunition. 

The ordinance came weeks after 17 people were killed in a shooting at a Parkland, Fla., high school. The shooter used an AR-15 in the massacre.

The ban originally prohibited Deerfield residents from possessing, manufacturing or selling the assault weapons and large-capacity magazines.

Residents with the newly banned weapons were required to remove their guns from town boundaries by June 13, 2018 or face a fine of up to $1,000 per day but Berrones temporarily blocked it the day before it went into effect. 

Two lawsuits were brought against the village, The Tribune reported.

One was filed by Deerfield gun owner Daniel Easterday, the Illinois State Rifle Association and the Second Amendment Foundation.

A second legal challenge, filed by Deerfield gun owner John William Wombacher III and Guns Save Life, is backed by the National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action.

The lawsuits argued that Deerfield had a chance to regulate assault weapons in 2013 but did not.

Illinois lawmakers, under order from the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, rewrote gun laws in 2013 making the regulation of assault weapons a state-vested power, the newspaper noted.

The legislature gave local governments until July 19 of that year to regulate assault weapons before the new Illinois Concealed Carry Act and an amended Firearm Owner’s Identification Card Act were enacted.

Deerfield officials tried to claim that their ban was an amendment to an ordinance  — defining assault weapons and requiring safe storage and transportation — already on the books before that deadline.

Berrones, however, ruled that it was a new ordinance and therefore must be enacted by the state legislature, according to the paper.