The Illinois law “takes the radical step of banning nearly every modern semiautomatic rifle — the single-most popular type of rifle in the country, possessed by Americans in the tens of millions," the document says.
The 24 million AR-15 semiautomatic rifles in U.S. circulation far outnumber the 16 million Ford F-150 trucks, the nation's top-selling vehicle, according to the lawsuit.
A similar constitutional challenge was filed last week in the Benton-based Southern District. It was filed by gun owners and gun-rights advocacy groups.
Other lawsuits, filed in southern Illinois county courts, challenge the legislative procedure to approve the law.
Plaintiffs in all the lawsuits are likely seeking southern Illinois courts because of a stronger disposition toward Second Amendment rights. Guns are viewed far more favorably in central and southern Illinois where there are larger populations of hunters and sport shooters, compared to northern metropolitan areas, particularly Chicago, which continues to battle deadly handgun violence.
The NRA-backed lawsuit also argues that the law's ban on high-capacity ammunition cartridges — no more than 10 rounds for rifles and 15 for pistols — and a long list of attachments and other accessories, is just as problematic because the weapons in question can't operate without them, so the add-ons are constitutionally protected “firearms” by inference.
Pritzker and allies nationally refer to the guns as “assault weapons.” The pleading notes the tradition of bearing arms and includes a glossary of terms. It explains that the restricted semiautomatic weapons are not machine guns — the expulsion of each round requires a separate squeeze of the trigger.
It points out that detachable magazines date to the Civil War and semiautomatic power is a century old.
This story was first published on January 24, 2023. It was updated on January 25, 2023 to correct that Benton, Ill. is about 100 miles (161 kilometers) southeast of St. Louis, not nine miles (about 14 kilometers) northeast.
Follow Political Writer John O’Connor at https://twitter.com/apoconnor