Measure to ban ‘assault weapons’ in Illinois gains cosponsors and criticism

(The Center Square) – A measure gaining Democratic support at the Illinois statehouse would ban the possession of certain types of guns.

State Rep. Maura Hirschauer’s House Bill 5522, filed in January, bans the sale, transfer or possession of certain types of firearms and magazines.

“Weapons of war have no place in our homes and on our streets,” Hirschauer, D-West Chicago, said on social media. “We must honor victims and survivors of gun violence with action – we must ban assault weapons and high capacity magazines now.”

Hirschauer’s bill has 51 cosponsors, most of them added to the bill after the July 4 Highland Park parade mass shooting.

State Sen. Neil Anderson, R-Andalusia, criticized advancing such measures.

“This is more emotional rhetoric using words that don’t even exist to try to gin people up that also don’t know anything about firearms,” Anderson said. “And, what is an assault weapon? Define an assault weapon.”

Among other things, Hirschauer’s bill defines an assault weapon as a semi-automatic rifle, pistol or shotgun that either takes a detachable magazine, or has a built in magazine with more than ten rounds. It also prohibits the sale, transfer or possession of .50 caliber rifles and cartridges.

Illinois State Rifle Association Executive Director Richard Pearson said banning inanimate objects doesn’t address evil acts. It merely negatively impacts law-abiding citizens who legally own semi-automatic weapons.

“Almost none are used in situations like this compared to the twenty- or thirty-million [semi-automatic rifles] that are in the United States,” Pearson told The Center Square. “So it becomes an issue where the law-abiding citizens pay heavily, the law-abiding gun owners pay heavily, for these kinds of activities, these kinds of ideas.”

It’s unclear if there would be a special session to deal with any proposed legislation regulating guns in Illinois. The state already has some of the strictest gun laws in the nation.

If HB5522 is passed and enacted, violations could bring up to a Class 2 felony, punishable by up to seven years in prison.

Exemptions would be for law enforcement, military and for those who possess such weapons before the effective date, though such individuals would have to register with the Illinois State Police and pay a $25 fee.

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