Sen. Julie Morrison Sponsors Sensible Gun Legislation

June 2015 Newsletter

By Eleonora di Liscia

Illinois State Senator Julie Morrison (D-Deerfield) is working to bring sanity back into Illinois gun laws. Sen. Morrison is sponsoring a bill that would enable municipalities to once again regulate assault weapons.

In 2013, Illinois became the last state to enact a concealed carry law after the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled a ban was unconstitutional.  The resulting Concealed Carry Act then barred a municipality from regulating assault weapons unless the regulation was in place within 10 days after the Act’s July 9, 2013 effective date.

The City of Highland Park acted quickly, passing its assault weapons ban on June 24, 2013, just prior to the cut off. (For a statement by Highland Park Mayor Nancy Rotering, see sidebar.)  But for some gun owners any regulation is just too much.  A Highland Park resident, along with the Illinois State Rifle Association, challenged the Highland Park law, arguing among other things that the law limited their options for armed self-defense.  On April 27, 2015, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals rejected their arguments and upheld Highland Park’s law.

The Seventh Circuit found that the gun owners had undermined their own argument that a ban on assault weapons wouldn’t prevent criminals from finding substitute weapons.  “If criminals can find substitutes for banned assault weapons, then so can law-abiding home owners,” Judge Frank Easterbrook wrote. The court also said that data established that laws like the Highland Park ban reduced gun crimes involving assault weapons and that some evidence linked the availability of assault weapons to gun-related homicides.

Prompted by the April 27 ruling, Sen. Morrison’s SB 2130 would strike the language in the Concealed Carry Act prohibiting municipalities from regulating assault weapons.

“This is about local control,” Morrison said in a statement. “Highland Park decided to protect its citizens by banning assault weapons. Every other city and village in Illinois should have that same right.”

The Illinois State Rifle Association has naturally said it will oppose the bill. At least one gun- nut site labelled Sen. Morrison an “anti-gun extremist” who has introduced a “dangerous gun control bill” that “would ban most of the possession of most of the guns you own now.”

But both the Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence and the Gun Violence Prevention PAC have praised the bill.

“Now that we have a court decision that affirms communities can ban assault weapons, I’m sure more of Illinois’ cities and towns will want to pass ordinances to keep their residents safe,” said Colleen Daley of the Illinois Council against Handgun Violence. “Senator Morrison’s legislation would help restore local control on this important public safety issue.”

This is a sidebar to the article about Julie Morrison’s proposed legislation.

Statement by Nancy Rotering, Mayor of Highland Park, Following Decision Upholding Her City’s Assault Weapons Ban

In 2013, when the State of Illinois passed legislation that offered the City of Highland Park a brief opportunity to regulate assault weapons, we made sure that the chance to protect our community wasn’t lost. Despite threats from special interest groups, we took decisive action to ban assault weapons in an effort to reduce the risk of a mass shooting.


As a mayor and the mom of four sons, the memories of Sandy Hook ran through my mind as we took the vote. Banning assault weapons is a commonsense step to reducing gun violence and protecting our children, our law enforcement officials, and our community from potential mass violence and grief.

While special interest groups challenged our decision, first the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois and then the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed that Highland Park’s assault weapons ban ordinance is lawful under the U.S. Constitution.

While the court’s ruling allows all Illinois municipalities the opportunity to safeguard their residents, current Illinois state law limits their ability to enact their own firearm restrictions. Municipalities wishing to take the same or similar steps as Highland Park needed to do so within a 10-day window in 2013. That time has come and gone. Highland Park was among a handful of municipalities to pass an assault weapons ban back then.

Upon receipt of the news of the court’s ruling, I contacted State Senator Julie Morrison and urged her to draft legislation to amend state law to allow all municipalities the opportunity to take action at any time to ban assault weapons. Senator Morrison agreed that all Illinois municipalities should have the opportunity to protect their communities, and she introduced SB 2130 to the Illinois General Assembly on May 1.

We know that we cannot stop every violent crime, but we can and will continue to take sensible action and do our part to protect our children and families.

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