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How Far Would the Proposed Assault Weapons Ban Go?
A recently-introduced assault weapons ban is stirring up controversy at the statehouse. It's not just over the idea of whether it's okay to ban specific types of guns, but many lawmakers think this bill just goes way too far. The broad range has many questioning the constitutionality of the measure.
Typically, assault weapon bans focus on civilian firearms that are similar in design to specific military weapons.
But HB1263, which recently passed an Illinois Senate committee, would go much farther.
That has many questioning the constitutionality of such a broad ban.
"No, there hasn't been any constitutional problems with regulations on military-style assault weapons and pistols," Democratic Sen. Dan Kotowsky, a supporter of the bill, said. "There haven't been any constitutional issues that have been taken up, and the supreme court, in fact, has indicated that there wouldn't be any kind of issue."
Because of the language of the bill, many of the guns fired at numerous shooting ranges like Capital City Arms would be deemed illegal, and many of the firearms on the shelves would no longer be for sale.
"I would ask, 'What are they going to let me sell?,'" Capital City Arms co-owner Aaron Turner said. "That would be my next question. They're banning about half the stuff I have back in there right now. I don't even think they know what they're banning in here, honestly."
An example is the Ruger 10/22, chambered in the small rimfire caliber of 22.
"That's one of your most common guns to either start kids into, and get them into shooting," Turner said. "And it's a very good gun to practice on too."
Many guns would be considered assault weapons and banned if they featured a thumbhole stock.
"That doesn't do anything to the firearm except make it more comfortable to the person that's shooting the weapon," Turner said. "That's about the only thing that does to the gun. It doesn't make it do anything else, essentially. It doesn't make it fire any faster. It doesn't make it fire any differently. It doesn't change any other aspects of the gun except looks."
A paragraph about a shroud on the barrel might eliminate nearly all semi-automatic handguns and rifles.
"I don't think people realize how big this is," Turner said. "Some people think, 'Well I only have one gun.' Well, that one gun may now be illegal."
The assault weapons ban hasn't been called to the floor for a vote yet. If that doesn't happen next week, the bill will die as the new general assembly begins, though a similar measure could be introduced. The proposed bill also includes new regulations for firing ranges.
Gov. Pat Quinn is commending the Senate for its work on the assault weapons ban during the lame-duck session, calling it "an important step."
"Following the horrific Aurora, Colo., movie theater massacre that left 12 dead, I proposed a statewide ban on assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines to best protect the people of Illinois," Quinn said. "As I have repeatedly made clear, there is no place in Illinois for weapons designed to rapidly fire at human targets at close range."