CHICAGO — Suburban gun shop owners were swamped with weekend crowds after a federal judge in the district court for the Southern District of Illinois issued an injunction Friday, blocking enforcement of the state’s January ban on military-style firearms.
When Roger Krahl, owner of RGuns in Carpentersville, heard about the injunction, he said the phones in his office lit up like a Christmas tree.
“Within 15 minutes, we had people coming in,” Krahl told The Chicago Tribune on Saturday. “There was a line outside the door before I could open up this morning. There will be no lunch today because we’ll be going nonstop.”
Krahl told the Tribune he was “overjoyed” when he got word of the ruling by Trump-appointed U.S. District Judge Stephen McGlynn.
Writing that “a constitutional right is at stake,” McGlynn found the plaintiffs in the case showed the law caused an “irreparable harm” by denying them the ability to “purchase their firearm of choice” and “exercise their right to self-defense in the manner they choose.”
Two other federal judges from northern Illinois have upheld the ban, and Democratic Attorney General Kwame Raoul plans to appeal the ruling, according to spokesperson Jamey Dunn-Thomason.
'Constitutionally protected activity'
Maxon Shooter’s Supply owner Dan Eldridge said he hasn’t seen this level of business at his Des Plaines establishment since the panic buying that occurred immediately following the first COVID-19 outbreak in March 2020.
Eldridge said he expects record crowds and panic buying to continue into next week, as courts move forward with the ruling.
Eldridge, who is also president of Federal Firearm Licensees of Illinois, called the ownership of military-use rifles, like M-16s, with AR-15s, a “constitutionally protected activity.” He said many gun owners have lost more than half their revenue since the bill was signed by Gov. J.B. Pritzker earlier this year.
On Friday, owners pulled their high-power firearms inventory out from storage.
Eldridge said Maxon puts five to six thousand students through self-defense programs each year — basic pistol safety, rifle classes and medical emergency training. Even as sales have dropped since January, he said, demand for defense training has increased.
AR-15s have been blamed for many mass shootings in the U.S., but Eldridge said they are excellent self-defense weapons.
“Living in Chicago raises obvious self-defense issues,” Eldridge said. “If somebody is ready to spend $250 and 16 hours of their time on a concealed carry class, that’s a pretty good indication that they do have some concerns about personal safety.”
Eldridge said AR-15s have instant recoil, are comfortable to shoot and adaptable to people of all different heights, while Krahl called AR-15s: “Barbie for guys.”
'I got my rights back'
The ban goes well beyond assault rifles. It addresses large capacity ammunition magazines of more than 10 rounds for long guns and 15 rounds for handguns, and devices that increase the firing rates of a firearm, known as “switches.”
Friday’s ruling does not apply to the law’s ban on “switches,” and it doesn’t affect an additional provision extending firearm restraining orders to take guns away from people who are a danger to themselves or others.
Krahl’s said his statewide sales plummeted 90% in January. He stressed that passing laws to take firearms away from law-abiding citizens is not the solution.
“A gun is a gun,” said Krahl. “If you want to increase penalties for committing crimes with a firearm, my industry is 100% behind it.”
Eldridge said that he plans to continue to fight the law, so his members can earn their livelihoods and serve their customers. He said the law was a knee-jerk reaction to last summer’s deadly mass shooting in Highland Park.
“It belies some pretty ugly perspectives from the gun control people that a tragic mass shooting is worth engaging in a constitutional battle, when the number of people who are murdered in Chicago each weekend don’t drive them to do anything,” Eldridge said.
Zack Johnson, of Woodstock, purchased a TRR15 rifle Saturday at RGuns. He was at work when he heard about the district court ruling, and his phone went off with elated texts from friends and co-workers.
“I’m fairly excited that I got my rights back,” Johnson said. “We live in the United States, we should follow the Constitution and be able to do what law-abiding citizens are able to do.”