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Judge temporarily blocks assault weapons ban in Chicago suburb of Deerfield

Judge blocks Chicago suburb's assault weapons ban
Credit: Rick T. Wilking, Getty Images
A man openly carries his rifle at a pro gun rally on April 21, 2018 in Boulder, Colorado. The city of Boulder is considering enacting an ordinance that will ban the sale and possession of assault weapons in the city.

CHICAGO — An Illinois judge has temporarily blocked the Chicago suburb Deerfield from implementing an assault weapons ban that the village passed in the aftermath of the Parkland, Fla., school shooting that left 17 dead.

The board of the village, which is located north of Chicago, voted unanimously in April to approve an ordinance banning assault weapons, including the AR-15 that was used in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School massacre, in the town’s boundaries.

Lake County Circuit Court Judge Luis Berrones on Tuesday agreed to implement a temporary restraining order to prevent enforcement of the ordinance, which was to go into effect Wednesday, until two lawsuits challenging the ordinance could be heard.

 “We are reviewing with our legal team the full written opinion that the Judge entered,” the village said in a statement. “We will, of course, honor the order issued by the Court and temporarily not enforce the ordinance. 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.”

The ordinance stated the ban was in the best interest of public health and would spur a cultural change toward “the normative value that assault weapons should have no role or purpose in civil society.”

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Deerfield residents with assault weapons are directed to sell them, hand them over to police or move them out of the village within 60 days of the ordinance going into effect. There are exceptions for law enforcement officers and members of the military.

Violating the ordinance could result in a fine of at least $250 and up to $1,000 for each day the violation occurs.

The attempt to ban assault weapons immediately drew interest from national groups in favor of stricter gun regulations (the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence) and gun rights proponents (the National Rifle Association) who rushed into the fray.

The Illinois State Rifle Association, the Second Amend Foundation and Deerfield resident Daniel Easterday filed one legal challenge against the ordinance. Another lawsuit was brought by Deerfield resident John William Wombacher III and Guns Life with the backing of the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action.

"This ruling is a significant victory because it allows law-abiding Deerfield residents to keep commonly owned firearms and magazines in their homes for self-defense while the case proceeds,” John Boch, executive director of Guns Save Life, said in a statement. “We are gratified by the court’s decision and the careful attention to the law that it reflects.”

The Brady Center signed on to provide free legal service to Deerfield.

The city of Boulder, Colo., passed a similar ordinance in May and is also facing legal challenges from gun rights proponents.