McHenry County state’s attorney files lawsuit claiming new Illinois gun ban violates 2nd Amendment

Lawsuit defends use of weapons banned in law, argues law contradicts U.S. history of firearm regulation

McHenry County State's Attorney Patrick Kenneally (right) talks with Criminal Division Chief James Newman Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2022, about changes implemented as a result of the SAFE-T Act at their office in the McHenry County Government Center in Woodstock.

The McHenry County State’s Attorney’s Office is challenging the constitutionality of the new Illinois gun ban in a lawsuit filed Thursday, joining a number of other groups, businesses and individuals across the state seeking to overturn it.

The lawsuit, which names Gov. JB Pritzker and Attorney General Kwame Raoul, calls the new law a “clear violation of the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution” and argues it places officials in an impossible situation of deciding whether to enforce a law that violates citizens’ rights.

The lawsuit, filed by State’s Attorney Patrick Kenneally, makes the case that provisions in the law that ban a number of firearms, various attachments and magazines of a certain size are unconstitutional and argues the weapons and parts help make the weapons safer and have utility in self and home defense.

“Our Supreme Court has decided that the Second Amendment is a fundamental right,” Assistant State’s Attorney Troy Owens said on Thursday. “If we don’t stand up and enforce and exercise the rights we have, they’re going to go away.”

As it stands, Kenneally is the only state’s attorney in Illinois to have filed such a lawsuit that they are aware of, Owens said. But Kenneally said on Thursday he expects more to come based on conversations he’s had with other state’s attorneys.

“We have one of the larger civil divisions ... in the state,” Kenneally said. “Based on conversations I’ve had, ... I do think this is just the first domino to fall.”

The law, which took effect this month, bans the sale of certain semi-automatic weapons. It also banned weapons with a variety of attachments and magazines capable of holding 15 or more rounds for handguns and 10 or more rounds for long guns.

Owens said the new gun law is similar to previous ones passed in Illinois but “on steroids,” as it affects millions of people who already own such items, saying it “spits in their face.”

For those who already own the newly banned guns, the law will require those owners to register their firearms – a provision that many law enforcement officials have said they won’t enforce.

Weapons with folding and telescoping stocks, for example, are banned under the new law. However, the lawsuit argues those parts both make the weapon safer to use and easier to store. Another example the lawsuit provides is flash suppressors, which it argues can help a victim during a home invasion.

The gun ban also contradicts the U.S.’ history of regulating firearms, the lawsuit asserts.

Filed in the McHenry County courthouse, the lawsuit seeks to have the law declared unconstitutional. It’s also asking for an injunction, which, if granted, would halt the law’s effects for the time being in McHenry County.

The lawsuit was filed the same day as the Second Amendment Foundation, which names several parties, including Marengo Guns, as a plaintiff, filed in federal court a request for an injunction on its suit.

The gun ban was passed in the wake of Highland Park’s Fourth of July parade, where the alleged shooter used a Smith & Wesson M&P 15 rifle with three magazines of 30 rounds each. Those items are under the scope of the new law.

Many gun stores, including some in McHenry County, have said they will likely go out of business or see a significant chunk of their business go away as a result of the law.

It has also renewed efforts to make McHenry County a gun sanctuary, which has at times divided residents who have spoken at different meetings. The McHenry County Board is set to potentially take up the issue at meetings both later this month and in February.