SPRINGFIELD — The Illinois Senate has voted to pass an assault weapons ban six months after the Highland Park tragedy that claimed the lives of seven people and injured dozens more.
The bill will now go back to the state House for another vote on Tuesday.
Lawmakers pushed to pass the measure before the new legislature was sworn in.
Gov. JB Pritzker, House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch and Senate President Don Harmon issued a joint statement in support of a sweeping assault weapons ban:
After continued negotiations between the leaders, stakeholders and advocates, we have reached a deal on one of the strongest assault weapons bans in the country. Gun violence is an epidemic that is plaguing every corner of this state and the people of Illinois are demanding substantive action. With this legislation, we are delivering on the promises Democrats have made and, together, we are making Illinois’ gun laws a model for the nation.”
The amended Senate bill defines which weapons are deemed assault-style and immediately bans the sale of those weapons and high-capacity magazines. It also creates a system to register the serial numbers of currently owned weapons, tracking them and preventing future sales and transfers. Additionally, it moves the date of background checks for person-to-person sales up to July of this year.
The bill’s passing does not change the FOID card age, however.
As last-minute wrangling occurred in Springfield, a group of Chicago doctors convened with a plea to pass the assault weapons ban.
“The damage from assault weapons is not like from other guns,” said Dr. Sheena McKenzie, a pediatrician in Highland Park Pediatrician.
Dr. Omar Lateef with Rush University Medical Center called gun violence an ongoing “public health crisis.”
“I think we can all see enough is enough and that should not be a controversial statement,” Lateef said.
But Senate Republicans, voting against the issue which was endorsed 34-20, predicted the law would be overturned in court as unconstitutional.
“Friends, you’ve got to know the actions you’re taking right now are tyrannis,” said State Senator Darren Bailey (R-Louisville).
“We’re going to create felons out of taxpayers. Why don’t we go after the bad guys, put them behind bars and keep them there?” added Senator Chapin Rose (R-Mahomet).
“Make no mistake, when you vote for this today, you’re violating your oath of office,” said Sen. Terri Bryant (R-Murphysboro).
But doctors said the bill, as it stands, will help.
“Our communities need common sense solutions that will reduce gun violence and save lives,” McKenzie said.
In response, gun advocates say if any restrictions pass, they will be prepared.
“There’s no question that it’s going to court. That’s why we gave no testimony,” said Dan Eldridge with Maxon Shooter Supplies in Des Plaines. “There’s no fixing this. We didn’t want to give them subject matter expertise on making a better bill. They can read our objections in the court filings.”