Last Friday, a judge in Macon County ruled Gov. Pritzker’s vaunted Illinois Firearms Ban Act as unconstitutional. The signed order, published all across the Internet, left a lot of folks perplexed. Does it really apply to the entire state? Does the order invalidate the entire law, or just parts?
First up, we wrote an analysis last Friday evening with the best information we had at the time. At this time, nothing has changed. The Center Square reported on how the plaintiff’s attorney in the case, Jerry Stocks of Decatur, says the order applies statewide.
(The Center Square) – An attorney for state Rep. Dan Caulkins, R-Decatur, says he’s confident a final judgment against Illinois’ new gun ban issued by a Macon County judge Friday is statewide pending an expected appeal from the state.
Gov. J.B. Pritzer enacted the ban on certain semi-automatic weapons and magazines over certain capacities on Jan. 10. Two weeks after the ban was in effect, lawsuits were filed in federal- and state-level courts.
Macon County Judge Rodney Forbes ruled the state’s gun ban and registry unconstitutional.
“The Court is bound to apply the appellate court’s holdings to plaintiffs’ identical equal protection claim in this case,” Forbes said.
The case concluded in Macon County Friday had a temporary restraining order in place barring the state from enforcing the law against named plaintiffs. It is separate from three other cases brought by attorney Thomas DeVore in Effingham and White counties. DeVore’s cases, which were consolidated by the Illinois Supreme Court, also have temporary restraining orders in place but only for named plaintiffs. .
DeVore’s initial Effingham County case secured a TRO on several procedural issues and on an argument the law violates equal protections for exempting certain professions in security and law enforcement. The state appealed and the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the TRO, but only for the equal protections argument. That led to a cascade of three other TROs to be issued, including for the Macon County case that also dealt with the equal protections argument.
“Further, equal protection and special legislation claims ‘are judged by the same standard,’ … so the Court is also bound to apply those holdings to plaintiffs’ special legislation claim in this case,” Forbes’ order said Friday. “Defendants argue that the [Effingham County case upheld by appellate court] is wrongly decided for multiple reasons but acknowledge that the Court is bound to apply it. For these reasons, the Court enters final judgment in favor of plaintiffs.”
Before the order was signed, Stocks explained his understanding of its impact.
“A judgment that a law is unconstitutional we submit would be void as if it never existed and it would be unenforceable in all applications and in all respects that would mean statewide,” Stocks told The Center Square. “The state is not going to concede that point but the order will have its legal impact.”
Greg Bishop also release a video with an interview with Mr. Stocks.
IN all fairness, Todd Vandermyde, our Illinois Gun Law Guru released this on his Freedom’s Steel YouTube channel. I have an enormous amount of respect of the guy who earned this motto from IL gun owners: In Todd We Trust.
Here’s my take:
Illinois Dealers are prudent to be skittish about conflicting interpretations of the order from Macon County. What’s more, they have far too much on the line to risk making a mistake. So don’t get upset with them for playing it safe.
The Illinois Attorney General doesn’t want to admit that their precious gun control law is on life support after the court order. It would be dead if it weren’t for the appeal filed by Kwame about two hours after the order was issued.
Was this some sort of great scheme from the AG’s office as attorney Tom DeVore seems to suggest? Eh, the AG’s office knew the judge was going to sign this order and they had drafted the appeal ahead of time.
Of course, Tom DeVore is busying dumping all manner of salt on Caulkins’ case and his win. As we noted in our earlier analysis piece, DeVore sent out a rather dubious email to some of what we believe were his dealer plaintiffs.
Dealers are in a tight spot. They don’t want to do something and then get gigged by the State of Illinois if it wasn’t what they thought it was.
One of our commenters who goes by the handle “David Deplorable” put it succinctly. Frankly, I wish I had made the connection.
This reminds me a lot of people like me refusing to carry in a Fanny pack or anything similar for fear of arrest and or prosecution when the law said it was perfectly legal. But that didn’t stop a lot of police chiefs and states attorneys from threatening arrests and prosecutions.
I suspect he is exactly right. Recall how twenty-plus years ago, comments from some police officers, police chiefs and state prosecutors threatening arrests and prosecution for those who carry an unloaded, encased firearm with a FOID card in the wallet certainly chilled people exercising that perfectly legal manner of “transporting” firearms.
Caulkins’ attorney and Caulkins himself have suggested for those who have any doubts to contact their local state’s attorney to get their read on this. That sounds like some great advice.
Hopefully this will flesh out in the coming days and weeks.
UPDATE: Greg Bishop posted another video this morning…
Juicy quote: “Well, if a law is unconstitutional, it’s unconstitutional. And I would not want to be in the position of any law enforcement ever enforcing a law that’s been adjudicated unconstitutional because their insurance carrier for 1983 liability is going to be doing handstands and flips.”