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Judge Tosses Gun Control Law, Rules That Town Cannot Enact Ban

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In a victory for gun rights advocates, an Illinois judge has thrown out an assault weapons ban that was imposed by a suburban Chicago community.

Lake County Circuit Court Judge Luis Berrones ruled Friday that the village of Deerfield had no authority to impose the ban and issued a permanent injunction to stop its enforcement, the Chicago Tribune reported.

Gun owners who sued the village have “a clearly ascertainable right to not be subjected to a preempted and unenforceable ordinance,” Berrones ruled.

The ban targeted the AR-15 as well as other guns and sought to ban high-capacity magazines.

“Deerfield’s senseless ban on popular firearms and magazines imposed a major burden on the right of law-abiding Illinois citizens to defend themselves but did nothing to disarm criminals,” said John Boch, executive director of Guns Save Life, in a statement posted by the National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action on its website. The group was a party to the lawsuit against the ban.

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“We are relieved that under today’s ruling,” Boch said. “Deerfield residents will continue to be able to keep their firearms and magazines at home.”

The law, approved last April, banned what it termed “assault weapons” and subjected those found with them to a fine and the confiscation of their guns.

Deerfield officials may appeal the ruling, which noted that the state of Illinois has previously taken unto itself the power to regulate gun ownership.

One of the issues in the lawsuit was whether the ordinance was a new law or an adaptation of an existing one. The village argued it was the latter, and allowable under a state edict. The judge disagreed and ruled that this was a new law, and as such violated a state law that ended local communities’ power to regulate gun ownership.

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“This unprecedented interpretation of state legislative action and intent make this case ripe for appeal,” the village said in a statement released on its website. “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.”

The attorney for the plaintiffs, however, said the ruling was the correct interpretation of the state’s intent.

“The Illinois General Assembly was very clear that it would not allow local governments to adopt a confusing patchwork of gun regulations under the guise of banning so-called ‘assault weapons,’” said David H. Thompson of Cooper & Kirk, PLLC, in a comment posted on the NRA-ILA website.

“Deerfield’s ordinance plainly violates Illinois law, and we are pleased that the Court agreed,” he said.

The village’s action ran counter to the efforts of an Illinois county that has joined a growing national trend toward creating so-called “gun sanctuaries” that push back against firearms restrictions.

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Gun control supporters have been pushing for bans on what they call assault weapons for many years. Democrats have been pushing for gun control, and have proposed legislation to expand background checks as a means of achieving that end.

Chris Cox, executive director of NRA-ILA, applauded the ruling.

“The NRA is proud to have supported this challenge to Deerfield’s ban on commonly owned firearms and magazines,” Cox said. “This ruling affirms that every law-abiding Deerfield resident has the right to protect themselves, their homes, and their loved ones with the firearm that best suits their needs.”

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