(The Center Square) – The attorneys with state-level challenges against Illinois’ gun ban disagree on whether the cases should be consolidated.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker enacted a ban on more than 170 different semi-automatic firearms and magazines over certain capacities on Jan. 10. Since then, a series of lawsuits have been filed in federal and state courts challenging the law. The law exempts individuals in certain occupations, such as law enforcement, prison staff and security officers from the gun ban.
The four different cases in state court all have temporary restraining orders in place.
Attorney Thomas DeVore, who has two cases out of Effingham County and one out of White County, motioned with the Illinois Supreme Court to consolidate his cases with a separate case out of Macon County. DeVore publicly raised concerns that the Macon County case is advancing too quickly, and he characterized that as playing into the governor’s hands.
“In that they’re running to the supreme court so fast is to try to get a quick ruling out of the supreme court on a poorly developed case that would then bind our case,” DeVore told The Center Square Wednesday.
Jerry Stocks, who represents state Rep. Dan Caulkins, R-Decatur, and others in the Macon County case, said they’re taking a “facial” challenge, different from DeVore’s approach.
“An adjudication in our matter would not prejudice his efforts on an as applied challenge,” Stocks told The Center Square Wednesday.
Stocks joined with the Illinois Attorney General’s office Tuesday in filing an opposition to consolidating with the cases out of Effingham and White counties.
“We both opposed it,” Stocks said. “We opposed it on the basis that we are pursuing matters differently, procedurally.”
Stocks worried consolidation with DeVore’s cases will lead to a protracted delay in an outcome.
DeVore said his efforts requesting subpoenas of those involved in passing the gun ban will develop the necessary record showing the state’s defense – citing training as the reason for carving out certain occupations like prison wardens to be exempt from the law – is a facade.
“And we’re not talking three or four years, we’re talking three or four months to gather the information like we’re gathering in order to be prepared for the chance that that occurs,” DeVore said.
A decision by the state’s high court on consolidation is still forthcoming. The window for gun owners in possession of any of the banned weapons to register with Illinois State Police opens Oct. 1. The deadline to register, if the law isn't struck down by the courts, is Jan. 1, 2024.
In the four separate federal cases against Illinois’ gun ban, a status hearing is set for Friday in the southern district to consider possible consolidation and coordinated response schedules for the state’s reply to motions for injunctive relief. Those cases all challenge the state’s ban, but use different arguments in their filings.
“I’m sure the state will be trying to consolidate everything even though there are differences among the lawsuits,” gun-rights advocate Todd Vandermyde said on his YouTube channel of the looming hearing.
The federal judge in the southern district last week ordered the state to reply to plaintiffs’ motion for an injunction with a list that show “each and every item banned.” He denied a motion by the state to delay its response in one of the cases, saying it does no harm for the state to reply to all four cases around the same time.