Illinois Lawmakers Mull Assault Weapons Ban as Lame Duck Session Nears End

Six months after a mass shooting at the Highland Park Fourth of July parade left seven people dead and dozens more injured, and just one week before the end of the Illinois General Assembly’s lame duck session, lawmakers are continuing negotiations on a bill that would ban assault weapons from being purchased or owned in the state.

HB 5855, known as the “Protect Illinois Communities Act,” would also prohibit most individuals under the age of 21 from buying firearms in the state of Illinois, and would ban the purchase or manufacture of extended magazines for weapons.

Currently, seven states have laws on the books that ban assault weapons in at least some capacity, including California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York.

Rep. Bob Morgan, who was an eyewitness to the tragic shooting at the Fourth of July parade in suburban Highland Park earlier this year, is the chief sponsor of the bill.

“We’ve never been this close at passing this major gun safety legislation, and there is a chance to do it,” Morgan said. “I think there is a critical mass of not just public support, but in the legislature (too), that recognizes that we can do something about the massive flow of semi-automatic rifles and this influx of high-capacity magazines and rapid-fire devices.”

Highland Park City Attorney Steven Elrod says that while the community does have an assault weapons ban on the books, the fact that no such statewide ban exists makes it difficult for such measures to be effective.