Illinois town bans assault weapons, violators face fine
The village of Deerfield in northern Illinois has passed a ban on assault weapons, but it affects much more than sales and manufacturing.
If the 18,000 residents of the Chicago suburb don’t forfeit or secure weapons that fall under the ban by June 13th, they will be charged from $200 to $1,000 a day as a penalty.
The Village wants a ‘sense of safety’
According to the ordinance, which the the Village Board of Trustees unanimously approved Monday night, it is unlawful for a person “to carry, keep, bear, transport or possess an assault weapon in the Village,” except if the weapon is “broken down in a non-functioning state,” is “not immediately accessible to any person,” or is “unloaded and enclosed in a case, firearm carrying box, shipping box, or other container by a person who has been issued a currently valid Firearm Owner’s Identification Card.”
Law enforcement officers, current and retired, are exempted.
The ordinance makes specific reference to recent mass shootings in Parkland, Florida; Las Vegas; and Sutherland Springs, Texas. “Assault weapons have been increasingly used in an alarming number of notorious mass shooting incidents at public places, public venues, places of worship and places of public accommodation,” the ordinance reads.
The authors of the legislation claim the law “may increase the public’s sense of safety…not withstanding potential objections regarding the availability of alternative weaponry or the enforceability of such a ban.”
CNN has reached out to Deerfield’s Management Analyst for comment.
Gun advocates call it ‘draconian’
Objections, as you might imagine, have come in spades. On Thursday morning the Illinois State Rifle Association announced that they and the Second Amendment Foundation had jointly filed a lawsuit against the Village of Deerfield.
“They are blatantly violating state law and they are violating the Second Amendment,” says Richard Pearson, executive director of the Illinois State Rifle Association. He told CNN the ISRA has been receiving waves of calls from people upset over the ban and is confident the ISRA’s legal challenge will prevail.
“The penalties are just draconian,” he says. “A guy — or a lady — who owns a large-capacity magazine or anything like that could owe thousands of dollars, and if they cross the thin, almost invisible line between municipalities, they could be considered a criminal.”
The NRA is supporting a similar lawsuit filed by the gun advocacy group Guns Save Life.
“Every law-abiding villager of Deerfield has the right to protect themselves, their homes, and their loved ones with the firearm that best suits their needs,” Chris W. Cox, executive director of the NRA’s lobbying arm, said in a statement.
CNN has reached out to the NRA for further comment.
How the ordinance defines a problematic term
Of course, the term “assault weapon” is in and of itself highly contentious, and no discussion of such a ban would be complete without some clarification.
Since the expiration of the Federal Assault Weapons Ban in 2004, there hasn’t been any official definition for the term. It is often dismissed by gun-rights advocates for its imprecision in describing what, exactly, an assault weapon is or isn’t.
A common NRA talking point states that an assault weapon should be defined as “any weapon used in an assault,” whether it be a gun, a knife, or otherwise.
Deerfield’s ordinance sets its own extensive definition of the term. In short, its version of an assault weapon is “a semiautomatic rifle that has the capacity to accept a large capacity magazine, detachable or otherwise.” There are other aspects, including rifle additions and types of magazines.
As defined by the village, the term also includes semiautomatic pistols, semiautomatic shotguns, conversion kits and “any shotgun with a revolving cylinder.”
The ban also provides an open-ended list of firearm models. It includes the AR-15 and its variants, which have been used in an overwhelming number of highly publicized mass shootings — including February’s attack at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.