Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul speaks briefly about the state’s gun ban Monday during an event in Chicago. | Photo: Illinois Information Service

(The Center Square) – The state attorney general said Illinois’ “assault weapons” and high-capacity magazine bans do not infringe on residents’ Second Amendment rights in response to a federal lawsuit.

Among the first questions in the answers to the Federal Firearms Licensees of Illinois lawsuit charges, Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul’s office, which is representing Gov. J.B. Pritzker and Illinois State Police Director Brendan Kelly, denied AR-15s are allowed under the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.

“If the right to ‘keep and bear arms’ means anything, it must mean that the government cannot ban the most popular firearms in the country … like the class of firearms known as magazine-fed semi-automatics,” the plaintiffs said in one filing.

“Defendants deny the allegations in this paragraph,” the state said.

“For example, certainly, a rifle like the ubiquitous AR-15, which has been on the market for over sixty years, and which is owned by many millions of law-abiding Americans, easily meets that description,” the plaintiffs allege.

“Defendants deny the allegations in this paragraph,” the state replied.

That was one of the dozens of answers in more than 100 pages of responses to statements four plaintiffs’ groups made challenging the law.

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The lead case is Barnett v. Raoul, where a separate affirmation filing was made.

Additional filings were made by Raoul’s office in the Harrel and Langley cases in the Southern District court.

Todd Vandermyde has been consulting on the case for the gun dealers group and said the state’s responses have been “comical.”

“It seems like they’re just terrified of admitting anything that the Supreme Court actually said this,” Vandermyde told The Center Square. “I don’t know if we’re reading two different decisions or if they’re in the twilight zone.”

Vandermyde said plaintiffs have until Thursday to respond. Oral arguments are set for April 12.

“You have cases in California and cases in Maryland that are pending already that have been through the arguments and all that and are awaiting decisions,” Vandermyde said.

The four consolidated federal cases are separate from the state-level Macon County case pending in front of the Illinois Supreme Court to be heard in mid-May.

A Macon County judge early this month issued a final judgment that Illinois’ gun and magazine ban is unconstitutional.

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The state immediately appealed to the Illinois Supreme Court. While most sheriffs won’t enforce the ban, some are looking for clear guidance given to Illinois State Police.

“ISP is not taking any actions inconsistent with the various court orders and cases. ISP will continue to follow guidance from the AG’s office,” a state police spokesperson told The Center Square earlier this month.

When asked Monday about the guidance for Illinois State Police on enforcing the state’s gun ban, Raoul said the gun ban “is the law.”

“Except for with regards to the plaintiffs and their respective lawsuits,” Raoul said at an unrelated event in Chicago Monday.

There are hundreds of plaintiffs spanning four different state-level cases with temporary restraining orders that are safe from enforcement of the ban, including gun stores and their customers.

ISP posted on their website a question and answer about the state’s gun and magazine ban.

“The current Macon County judgment and any TROs entered in other actions are only applicable to the specific Plaintiffs and Defendants in those actions,” the post said. “More information will be forthcoming as additional rulings transpire through the state and federal courts and when the Illinois Supreme Court rules on the matter.”

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Vandermyde said residents deserve clear, concise details about what the guidance is after the Macon decision.

“If they were to admit that this was statewide, I think that would be perceived as an initial loss on their end and they’re trying to mitigate that perception,” Vandermyde said.

A Freedom of Information Act request from The Center Square for the guidance given to state police was partially denied with separate responses from ISP and the AG’s office saying redactions were because of attorney-client privilege.

“The records that we have redacted consist of communications with Illinois State Police written for the purpose of planning courses of action with regard to potential litigation and interpretation of a court ruling,” the AG’s FOIA response said.

“This exemption codifies the attorney client privilege, precluding the release of confidential correspondence between attorneys from this office and the State officers or State agencies whose interests they represent,” the response said.