(The Center Square) – With the state of Illinois again restrained from enforcing a gun ban against plaintiffs in a second state-level challenge, the attorney who brought the case says he’s seeking subpoenas for those who passed the measure.
Illinois’ ban on certain semi-automatic guns and magazines was enacted Jan. 10. Sheriffs across the state have said the law violates individuals’ Second Amendment rights and they won’t enforce it. A bevy of lawsuits have since been filed in federal and state court.
White County Judge T. Scott Webb on Thursday issued the second temporary restraining order preventing enforcement.
“Quite frankly, the defendants oversimplify the issues,” Webb said. “The issue is not about the value of the firearms or the high-capacity magazine. No, the issue is the erosion of a fundamental right, the right to bear arms, by treating what appears to be similarly situated people differently.”
Like with the TRO from Effingham County upheld by Illinois’ Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, the White County decision deals only with the equal protections argument, not the procedural issue like allegations state lawmakers violated the single-subject rule, the three-readings rule, or legislative due process.
On the three-reading charge, Webb said the “court finds the procedural defects in the passing of the Act most concerning.”
“This Court views the actions of the legislature a blatant violation of the three readings requirement of the Illinois Constitution,” Webb wrote. “However, in light of the 5th Dist. Appellate Court’s recent opinion on the same question, this Court finds that it lacks the authority to decide the issue in the Plaintiffs’ favor.”
After the order was issued, attorney Thomas DeVore said the White County restraining order for 1,690 of his plaintiffs is similar to the appellate court’s upholding of the TRO in the Effingham County case.
“But, this judge made it very clear that the equal protection clause of the Illinois Constitution has been violated and he doesn’t think the governor or the General Assembly will ever overcome,” DeVore told The Center Square.
DeVore argued the law, which doesn’t apply to retired or active duty law enforcement or others in the security sector, violates Illinoisans equal protections rights because the law enforcement community is treated differently.
Among the 1,690 plaintiffs in the White County case covered by the TRO is former gubernatorial candidate and state Sen. Darren Bailey, R-Xenia, and state Reps. Blain Wilhour, R-Beecher City, and Adam Niemerg, R-Dieterich.
Before Thursday’s TRO, Niemerg said it looks like there could be a statewide injunction soon and state police should “go slow” on enforcing the ban.
“There’s no need to be going after gun shops,” Niemerg told WMAY. “There’s no need to be putting the cart in front of the horse, so to speak, because we’ve got this in court and it’s looking like this TRO is going to apply statewide one way or the other.”
Illinois State Police have said they are charged with enforcing state laws and acknowledge they conducted some enforcement activity last month, but didn’t provide further details.
DeVore said the legal process continues as he works to get a clear record of how the law was crafted by issuing subpoenas.
“Asking for every communication, email, text message, social, anything that they have communicated about House Bill 5471,” DeVore said. “So, yeah, every sponsor in the Senate and the House is getting a subpoena.”
Those subpoenas will include the governor, DeVore said.
“I’m demanding copies of each and every correspondence,” DeVore said. “Who they met with. Who they talked to. What studies they might have relied upon.”
DeVore said he’s looking to prove what he says is a hollow rationale for passing the law.
The Illinois Attorney General’s office has already said it is seeking an expedited Illinois Supreme Court review of the Effingham County TRO upheld by an appellate court.
“Over the last few years, my office has become accustomed to facing a barrage of challenges to newly-enacted state statutes and executive orders,” said Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul after Thursday’s order was released. “The Protect Illinois Communities Act is an important tool in our fight to protect Illinois residents from gun violence, and as with past matters, we recognize that the act’s constitutionality will ultimately be decided by a higher court. We are reviewing the circuit court’s decision and continue to review the 5th District’s decision. We will seek the Illinois Supreme Court’s review of challenges to the Protect Illinois Communities Act, and we will ask the court for an expedited schedule.”
In a fundraising email, one of the lead sponsors of the law, state Rep. Bob Morgan, D-Deerfield, told supporters the “NRA and their enablers have officially launched a barrage of attacks on the Protect Illinois Communities Act, attempting to tie up the assault weapons ban in legal battles and keep deadly weapons in our communities.
“While I am confident that the Protect Illinois Communities Act will withstand legal challenges, we unfortunately have a long road ahead of us,” Morgan’s solicitation said. “They are hoping that we will be worn down and will give up. But we will never back down when it comes to reducing gun violence.”
Niemerg said the bill does nothing to curb gun violence.
“The criminals out on the streets will still find access to these firearms,” Niemerg said. “This just encroaches on the Second Amendment for law abiding citizens.”
A separate yet similar case is set to be heard in Macon County Friday afternoon. There are also pending federal cases challenging the ban.