Hearings For Illinois' Proposed Assault Weapons Ban Begin Monday. Here's What the Bill Says

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Hearings for HB 5855, a wide-ranging gun control bill known as the "Protect Illinois Communities Act" are set to begin Monday at 11 a.m. among Illinois Lawmakers who sit on the House Judiciary committee.

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.  

That shooting left seven people dead and at least 48 others injured, and continued to stoke nationwide gun reform discussions.

The bill covers a wide variety of topics, but its notable features include an increase of the state’s minimum age to purchase or own a weapon, as well as a full ban on assault weapons, extended magazines and other items.

Here is a breakdown of the legislation, which could go up for a vote in the lame-duck session in January.

Bans Assault Weapons and Extended Magazines

The legislation would make it illegal to manufacture, deliver, sell or purchase any assault weapon in the state of Illinois. It would also make it illegal to possess such a weapon 300 days after the final passage of the bill.

A full list of weapons classified as “assault weapons” can be found within the text of the bill.

The bill also makes it illegal to own, purchase or possess .50 caliber rifles and cartridges, but there is language in the bill that allows owners who currently have such weapons to keep them.

Individuals who already own weapons that fall under the “assault weapons” definition must register those guns with the Illinois State Police between 80 and 300 days after final passage of the bill. A $25 fee will also be assessed.

Residents also many not purchase or possess magazines that can hold more than 10 rounds, and the bill also bans the sale or purchase of “switches,” which can increase a weapon’s rate of fire.

Those switches are technically already banned under federal law.

Raises Age of Legal Gun Ownership From 18 to 21

The bill also contains a provision that raises the minimum age to own a firearm from 18 to 21.

There are exceptions within the bill for use or possession of weapons by individuals under the age of 21. Active-duty members of the military or Illinois National Guard may still possess weapons, as can individuals who are employed by the federal government and must carry weapons as part of their responsibilities.

Individuals under the age of 21 who wish to hunt must do so under the supervision of an adult, and that adult must also have a FOID card.

Allows Prosecutors to Seek the Revocation of Gun Ownership From Those Who Trigger “Red Flag” Laws

If an individual could potentially be required to turn over weapons or be prohibited from purchasing or owning weapons, under terms of the state’s “red flag” laws, then prosecutors can now act as “friends of the court” within those processes.

Previously, only family members or law enforcement agents could utilize “red flag” laws to compel turnover of, or prevent the sale of, weapons.

As currently constructed, the “red flag” law allows family members or law enforcement agents to petition courts to temporarily remove firearms from individuals who pose a danger to themselves or to others.

Currently, those restraining orders can last for six months, but the bill would extend that period to 12 months.

“Red flag” laws came under intense scrutiny in the aftermath of the Highland Park shooting, as the alleged shooter was able to purchase multiple weapons despite having threatened violence against his family, and also threatened to harm himself.

The suspect’s father signed a document allowing him to purchase weapons, and law enforcement agents did not move to revoke his weapons.

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