Illinois becomes latest US state to ban assault weapons

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(SPRINGFIELD, Ill.) — Illinois on Tuesday became the latest U.S. state to ban the sale or possession of semiautomatic weapons.

Just hours after the legislation’s passage in both chambers of the Illinois General Assembly, Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed the “Protect Illinois Communities Act” into law during a ceremony at the State Capitol in Springfield. Supporters, some of whom were gun violence survivors, erupted with applause and cheers as the governor presented the signed document.

“For a long time now, I and many other leaders in the Illinois General Assembly have prioritized getting the most dangerous weapons off our state’s streets,” Pritzker said in a statement Tuesday. “Today, honoring the commitment we made, we passed one of the strongest assault weapons bans in the nation, one I will be proud to sign.”

Nine U.S. states as well as Washington, D.C., now prohibit the sale or possession of military-style weapons, driven largely by deadly mass shootings in their communities.

For Illinois, the ban came six months after a gunman wielding a semiautomatic rifle shot and killed seven people at a 4th of July parade in the Chicago suburb of Highland Park.

“No Illinoisan, no matter their zip code, should have to go through life fearing their loved one could be the next in an ever-growing list of victims of mass shootings,” the governor said. “However, for too long people have lived in fear of being gunned down in schools, while worshipping, at celebrations or in their own front yards. This legislation will stop the spread of assault weapons, high-capacity magazines, and switches and make our state a safer place for all.”

Pritzker, the Democratic incumbent who defeated Republican challenger state Sen. Darren Bailey in November to win a second term, had campaigned for reelection on the promise of stricter gun laws.

According to the Illinois State Rifle Association, the ban affects nearly 2.5 million legal firearm owners in the state.

“Challenge accepted,” ISRA executive director Richard A Pearson said in a statement Tuesday, in response to the ban. “The Illinois State Rifle Association will see the State of Illinois in court.”

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