Gun rights groups filed two separate lawsuits against an Illinois town this week after it enacted an ordinance banning certain firearms and ammunition magazines.
The National Rifle Association (NRA) announced on Wednesday it would be supporting a lawsuit against the Deerfield, Ill., gun ban brought by an Illinois-based gun rights group named Guns Save Life. The groups said the town's wide-ranging ban, which affects nearly all semi-automatic rifles as well as a large number of handguns and shotguns within city limits and carries a fine of up to $1,000 a day for those who don't remove, destroy, or turn over their affected guns, violates the constitutional rights of its members.
"We are going to fight this ordinance, which clearly violates our members' constitutional rights, and with the help of the NRA I believe we can secure a victory for law-abiding gun owners in and around Deerfield," John Boch, executive director of Guns Save Life, said in a statement.
"Every law-abiding villager of Deerfield has the right to protect themselves, their homes, and their loved ones with the firearm that best suits their needs," Chris W. Cox, executive director of the NRA's Institute for Legislative Action, said. "The National Rifle Association is pleased to assist Gun Save Life in defense of this freedom."
The Second Amendment Foundation joined with the Illinois State Rifle Association as well as Deerfield resident Daniel Easterday on Thursday in a separate suit against the gun ban. Their suit challenges the gun ban on the grounds that a 2013 Illinois state law makes it illegal for any locality to create their own so-called "assault weapon" laws.
"The regulation of the possession or ownership of assault weapons are exclusive powers and functions of this State," an excerpt from the relevant Illinois law cited by the gun rights groups reads. "Any ordinance or regulation, or portion of that ordinance or regulation, that purports to regulate the possession or ownership of assault weapons in a manner that is inconsistent with this Act, shall be invalid."
The Second Amendment Foundation said the town's gun ban must be struck down because of the conflict with state law.
"We moved swiftly to challenge this gun ban because it flies in the face of state law," Alan Gottlieb, the group's founder, said. "While the village is trying to disguise this as an amendment to an existing ordinance, it is, in fact, a new law that entirely bans possession of legally-owned semi-auto firearms, with no exception for guns previously owned, or any provision for self-defense."
For their part, the Deerfield council justified the new gun ban by saying, among other things, that so-called "assault weapons" have been used in a number of highly publicized shootings, "are commonly associated with military or antipersonnel use," and a ban on them "may increase the public's sense of safety."
However, Gottlieb said the gun ban is a real-world example of gun control activists coming for people's guns, as gun rights activists commonly warn is their ultimate goal.
"The new ordinance also provides for confiscation and destruction of such firearms and their original capacity magazines," he said. "What is particularly outrageous about this new law is that it levies fines of up to $1,000 a day against anyone who refuses to turn in their gun and magazines or move them out of the village by the time the ordinance takes effect in June. This certainly puts the lie to claims by anti-gunners that ‘nobody is coming to take your guns.'"
UPDATE 12:33 P.M., Monday 16 April: Though Guns Save Life claimed on April 5th they had already filed their suit against Deerfield, the suit has not yet been filed in court. Guns Save Life board member John Naese told the Free Beacon the lawsuit is still planned and will be filed "any day now."
UPDATE 3:09 P.M., Thursday 19 April: Guns Save Life filed their suit on Thursday.