File Photo – Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker | Photo: Illinois Information Service

(The Center Square) – Oral arguments have been scheduled for mid-April in four federal lawsuits filed against Illinois’ “assault weapons” and high-capacity magazine bans.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker in January enacted a ban on more than 170 semi-automatic firearms and certain magazine capacities and also required a registry of banned guns by Jan. 1, 2024.

A stack of lawsuits was filed in both state and federal courts.

The Southern District of Illinois federal court on Friday consolidated the cases from the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the Illinois State Rifle Association, the Federal Firearms Licensees of Illinois and a case out of Crawford County that was transferred from state court to federal court.

Barnett et. al v. Raoul will be the lead case.

Federal Judge Stephen McGlynn set the schedule for the state to answer the Second Amendment charges.

“The important thing is, I don’t need to be papered to death on this,” McGlynn said during a conference call with plaintiffs and defendants Friday.

Attorneys with Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul’s office, representing Pritzker and Illinois State Police Director Brendan Kelly, are to respond to a motion from plaintiffs for injunctive relief by March 2.

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The attorney general’s office also has until March 16 to answer charges the law violates the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution that guarantees the right to “keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

Todd Vandermyde, who is consulting for plaintiffs in the Illinois Gun Rights Alliance case, said the judge seems on top of the issues.

“I don’t think he’s going to be rushed, but I think he’s going to give everybody the opportunity to get everything into the record to build the case because he knows this is going up on appeal,” Vandermyde told the Center Square.

The Fifth and 14th Amendment allegations from the Crawford County case that the law violates rights against self-incrimination and rights of equal protection will come out at a later date, McGlynn noted.

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Vandermyde said that was about case management.

“And it’s another set of briefings that we don’t have to deal with and argue here,” Vandermyde said. “It’s already complicated enough.”

Oral arguments in the federal case will happen in East St. Louis on April 12.

In the state-level challenges to the gun and magazine ban, all four cases that have been filed have temporary restraining orders issued against the state preventing enforcement of the law, but only for certain plaintiffs.

The Illinois Supreme Court on Thursday denied attorney Thomas DeVore’s motion to consolidate his three cases with a case from state Rep. Dan Caulkins, R-Decatur, out of Macon County.

DeVore contends his aim is to build a record to successfully challenge the law in front of the Illinois Supreme Court and the Caulkins case is not.

While subpoenas are issued with motions to quash playing out, DeVore said he will amend his case to narrow his arguments.

“Since we’re going to amend anyway to reduce it to those narrow arguments, we’re going to give people a chance to join in if they want to,” DeVore told The Center Square.

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DeVore’s first case out of Effingham County secured a temporary restraining order for 866 plaintiffs.

A state appellate court sided with the temporary restraining order on the grounds equal protection arguments have a likelihood of success.

That ruling was followed by another temporary restraining order DeVore secured for 1,690 plaintiffs in White County and an additional batch of hundreds more plaintiffs in a second Effingham County case.

Attorney Jerry Stocks for Caulkins, which secured a temporary restraining order out of Macon County, said he has a fundamental disagreement with DeVore’s approach.

Stocks said his objective is to secure the maximum amount of citizen protection while the constitutional question works out.

“A person shouldn’t be protected from an unconstitutional law only because they paid Mr. DeVore $200,” Stocks told The Center Square.