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Illinois House passes assault weapons ban, abortion expansion bills overnight, now head to Senate

The bills will head back to the Illinois Senate. Here's what the bills would do if they become law.

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Just before 1 a.m. Friday, Illinois House members passed two "very critical" pieces of legislation: an assault weapons ban and an expansion on abortion access in the state.

Both now head back to the Senate.

"For months lawmakers and advocates have been hard at work negotiating two very critical pieces of legislation to keep Illinoisans safe," Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker said in an overnight statement. "The people of Illinois send us to Springfield to tackle tough issues and these bills are historic steps in the right direction. I look forward to working with our colleagues in the Illinois Senate to get bills addressing these issues to my desk so I can sign them as soon as possible."

Assault weapons ban

The assault weapons ban is tucked into Senate Bill 2226. It amends the Illinois Criminal Code of 2012 by making it illegal to manufacture, deliver, sell or purchase an assault weapon, assault weapon attachment, .50 caliber rifle or .50 caliber cartridge. It also makes it unlawful to cause these weapons and accessories to be manufactured, delivered, sold or purchased by another. 

People who already own a weapon that would be banned under the bill would be allowed to keep them, but they would be required to file an affidavit with the Illinois State Police within 180 days after the bill becomes law, providing the weapon’s serial number in order to receive a special endorsement on their Firearm Owner’s Identification card.

Also beginning 300 days after becoming law, it would be illegal for anyone who owns such a weapon to sell or transfer it to anyone other than an heir, an out-of-state resident or a federally licensed firearms dealer. They would also be required to notify state police within 10 days of that sale or gift.

Finally, the bill would prohibit the manufacture, delivery, sale, purchase or possession of large-capacity ammunition feeding devices. Again, there will be specified exemptions and penalties. 

“These are weapons that belong on a battlefield, not at parades, or parks, or schools or churches,” House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch, a chief sponsor of the bill, told his colleagues during a hearing Thursday.

The bill was prompted in large part by the July 4 mass shooting in Highland Park during an Independence Day parade which left seven people dead and dozens more injured or traumatized.  

There is another bill making its way through the legislature regarding assault weapons. House Bill 5855, also known as the "Protect Illinois Communities Act," was introduced in early December 2022. 

This bill, if passed, would do the following: 

  • Eliminate provisions that permit a person under 21 who is not an active duty member of the U.S. Armed Forces or the Illinois National Guard to obtain a FOID Card with parental consent. 
  • Make it so that when a person under 21 is hunting under the supervision of an adult, the adult must have a FOID card. 
  • Makes it unlawful to manufacture, deliver, sell or purchase an assault weapon, assault weapon attachment, .50 caliber rifle or .50 caliber cartridges. It's also unlawful to make someone else manufacture, deliver, sell or purchase those items.
  • Makes it unlawful for any person to knowingly possess an assault weapon, .50 caliber rifle, or .50 caliber cartridge 300 days after the effective date of the amendatory Act, except possession of weapons registered with the Illinois State Police in the time provided.

The law contains exemptions for members of law enforcement, the military and the National Guard, as well as firearms that are explicitly allowed for hunting by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

State Rep. Dan Swanson, R-Alpha, called the ban "unconstitutional" and "bad for Illinois manufacturing" in a statement from Friday morning. 

“Firearm manufacturers based in the 71st District and throughout Illinois will be pushed out of Illinois by this unconstitutional gun ban,” said Swanson, who is also a retired Lieutenant Colonel with the United States Army and Illinois Army National Guard who was stationed at Rock Island Arsenal. “The Chicago Democrats pushing for this bill know this is an unconstitutional gun grab, as well as, likely, a violation of interstate commerce provisions of the United States Constitution. I was proud to protect the Second Amendment and our Constitutional rights with my NO vote on this gun ban.”

Geneseo, which is represented by Swanson, is home to the Springfield Armory. Swanson said this bill would prevent current firearm manufacturers from selling Illinois-made firearms to law-abiding gun owners in the state.

“Multiple court cases have found gun bans unconstitutional, unworkable and unacceptable in recognizing the Second Amendment Rights of United States citizens,” Swanson said. “I expect this ban will be challenged successfully in the courts should it ever become law, as well. Instead of taking guns away from law-abiding citizens, we need to prosecute and punish criminals who commit crimes with a firearm. There are no penalty enhancements for the criminals in this bill, but numerous new penalties if an otherwise law-abiding gun owner fails to register legacy firearms.”

The bill passed 64-43. 

Abortion rights expansion

The abortion expansion is tucked into Senate Bill 1534 and aims to protect abortion providers targeted by other states that have banned abortions. 

Referred to as the "Patient and Provider Protection Act," part of this bill would make it so abortion providers would be prohibited from responding to out-of-state subpoenas seeking information about those who come to Illinois seeking the procedure to go around bans in other states. 

Here's what else the bill would do when it comes to reproductive health: 

  • Require public higher education institutions to have emergency contraception available for purchase through at least one vending machine on each campus. 
  • Requires abortion care coverage to include medications prescribed for the purpose of producing abortions.
  • Requires health insurance to provide coverage for all abortifacients, gender-affirming health care medication, human immunodeficiency virus pre-exposure prophylaxis and post-exposure prophylaxis drugs. 

The bill passed 67-41. 

Capitol News Illinois is a nonprofit, nonpartisan news service covering state government that contributed to this article. It is distributed to more than 400 newspapers statewide, as well as hundreds of radio and TV stations. It is funded primarily by the Illinois Press Foundation and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation.

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