Illinois gun groups are reporting confusion from gun owners as the state pushes for them to register “assault” weapons under the state’s new ban.
Jan. 1 marked the deadline for Illinoisans to register their assault weapons with the state before the ban signed by Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker takes effect on Jan. 10.
However, of the over 2.4 million Firearm Owner Identification (FOID) cardholders, there have only been 112,350 disclosures filed as of Dec. 31, 2023, according to state police data. Another 29,357 disclosures were in the process of being completed.
Second Amendment advocacy groups told Fox News Digital that there is “confusion” among gun owners in the state due to the vagueness of the new law.
Dan Eldridge, president of the Federal Firearms Licensees of Illinois lobby group, told Fox News Digital that “one of the aspects” of the noncompliance is simply “ignorance of the law.”
Eldridge said “the confusion is that nobody can tell you what’s covered by this act.” For example, one county prosecutor posted a notice that by Jan. 1, everyone must register their assault weapon and high capacity magazines — but Eldridge noted that magazines “aren’t required to be registered.”
“Nor could they be,” Eldridge said. “They have no serial number.”
“Then more recently, you had this governor stating on camera that automatic and semi-automatic firearms and high capacity magazines must be registered,” he said. “Well, automatic is not mentioned once in the act, and as we talked about just a second ago, magazines aren’t covered, so, well, one out of three is pretty good for this governor on anything gun related.”
Eldridge also said “civil disobedience” is another factor at play with the low registration numbers.
“Almost every sheriff and most of the county state’s attorneys have stated they will not enforce this act,” he said. “So residents of those counties had very little incentive to register.”
A spokesperson for the Illinois State Police (ISP) told Fox News Digital that “not every FOID cardholder owns a gun,” which Eldridge disputed.
“The state police don’t know how many FOID cardholders are firearms owners, but I think it’s safe to say that most individuals are not going to go through the time, expense and invasive background check to get a FOID card if they don’t intend to purchase a firearm,” he said.
“So I would reject that and say that the 2.4 million is a pretty good proxy for how many firearms owners there are in the state. That 112,000 number is also incorrect, and what you have to look at is how many individuals are disclosing. And in that case, you’re talking about 29,357 people.”
“This thing is a dog’s breakfast of a public act,” Eldridge added. “It was a late-night gut-and-replace text of an insurance bill that violated all the public notice provisions of the state constitution.”
John Boch, executive director of the Illinois Second Amendment advocacy group Guns Save Life, told Fox News Digital that while “thousands have registered their self-defense firearms…. MILLIONS have not.”
“The 98.8% non-compliance speaks volumes for what the average gun owner thinks about gun registration schemes,” Boch said.
“Why the low compliance?” he continued. “We all know that confiscation follows registration.”
Boch said that “there is confusion” with the ban and that plenty of gun owners “remain completely unaware that they own guns that are supposed to be registered.”
“The State Police didn’t mail out anything to FOID cardholders, nor did they even email everyone to let them know about their obligations to remain completely legal,” Boch said.
“Due to the vagueness in both the law and the ISP’s rules that don’t follow the language in the law, many people aren’t sure what they need to do,” he continued.
“We suspect that many people have registered guns that didn’t need to be registered, for instance a Glock pistol that comes with standard capacity magazines over 15 rounds,” he added.
Ted Riva, president of the Dewitt County Sportsman’s Club in Illinois, told Fox News Digital the group’s opinion is that the lack of compliance is “a glaring slap in the face to the governor and his traitorous cronies.”
“The compliance numbers are low because law-abiding gun owners are sick and tired of being blamed and punished for the actions of criminals,” Riva said. “We have reached a point where we are no longer willing to accept our constitutionally guaranteed rights being trampled on by politicians that swore an oath to uphold that same constitution.”
“‘Shall not be infringed’ [is] pretty plain and simple wording,” he added.
Riva said there “have been several people that have asked questions about the law itself” and that the “[state’s] rush to implement this illegal piece of trash has left too many questions to answer and continues to confuse law-abiding citizens all across the state.”
Gun Owners of America senior vice president Erich Pratt told Fox News Digital, “There’s no doubt a portion of Illinois gun owners are completely unaware they are about to be in violation of this new law.”
“However, what stands out even more is the significant likelihood of blatant civil disobedience,” he continued. “To draw inspiration from the wise words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., we recognize a moral obligation to challenge laws that are deemed unconstitutional.”
Gun Owners of America is the lead on one of the lawsuits challenging the ban.
Fox News Digital reached out to Pritzker’s office for comment.
Illinois state police said Wednesday that they would not bring charges to state residents who register their property after the deadline.