Deerfield, IL – An Illinois judge has issued an order that temporarily blocked Deerfield village officials from being able to enforce a ban on firearms they declared to be “assault weapons.”
The Deerfield Village Board unanimously voted to outlaw certain semi-automatic firearms during an Apr. 2 meeting, and told residents they had until June 13 to get their guns outside of town limits.
Violators would be subject to a fine of $1,000 per day, the board added.
The ordinance included semiautomatic rifles with fixed magazines capable of holding over 10 rounds of ammunition, and shotguns with revolving cylinders, the Chicago Tribune reported.
Rifles capable of accepting “large-capacity magazines” and a multitude of other features were also included in the ban, according to the paper.
The ordinance further outlawed some semiautomatic pistols, which primarily seemed to be targeting pistol variants of rifles and submachine guns, as well as pistols with off-hand gripping areas, barrel shrouds, or stocks.
The board determined that magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds were “large-capacity magazines,” and eradicated citizens’ rights to possess them, as well.
Two separate plaintiffs soon filed lawsuits against the village, and claimed that the board did not have the authority to impose a weapons ban, the Chicago Tribune reported.
On Tuesday, Circuit Court Judge Luis Berrones determined that the village ordinance was unenforceable due to Illinois’ Firearm Owners Identification Card Act and the Firearm Concealed Carry Act, the Chicago Tribune reported.
In the past, village administrators had argued that the ban was simply an amendment to an earlier ordinance, which defined assault weapons and established requirements for storage and transportation of such firearms within village borders.
In 2013, Illinois state lawmakers said that local governments had until July 19, 2013 to regulate “assault weapons.” Subsequent to that time, “regulation of the possession or ownership of assault weapons” were given to the state, according to the Illinois Firearm Owners Identification Card Act.
Despite the village boards’ claims to the contrary, Berrones found that the weapons ban was not merely an amendment to a prior ordinance – it constituted an entirely new ordinance.
“The banning of assault weapons is substantively different than regulations regarding the transportation and storage of such weapons by one who owns or possesses assault weapons,” he wrote.
“In this case, the village went from ‘you can have them’ to ‘you can’t have them at all and if you do the fines are up to $1,000 a day,’” attorney David Sigale, who is representing plaintiffs in one of the suits, told the Chicago Tribune.
Berrones also determined that the language of Deerfield’s weapons ban did not specifically “prohibit possession or ownership of large capacity magazines,” the Deerfield Patch reported.
"Deerfield's claim that the 2018 Ordinance prohibits ownership or possession of any large capacity magazine fails because the 2018 Ordinance does not contain specific language prohibiting all large capacity magazines," the judge wrote.
Village administrators said they would follow Berrones’ temporary order as they reviewed the matter.
"We are reviewing with our legal team the full written opinion that the judge entered. We will, of course, honor the order issued by the court and temporarily not enforce the ordinance," Deerfield said in the statement, according to the Deerfield Patch. "But we are certainly going to review all of the options available to the village, including the right to appeal the decision to the Illinois appellate court."
Although the temporary order blocks enforcement of the weapons ban while the lawsuits are pending, the matter is far from over.
The suits are expected to be heard by the court on July 5 and July 20, the Chicago Tribune reported.