Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker Defends State’s New Comprehensive Gun Ban

Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker believes a sweeping ban on certain high-powered firearms and high-capacity ammunition magazines he recently signed into law will withstand legal challenges and “place buying” by rights advocates of guns trying to reverse some of the most aggressive gun laws. in the country.

The law curbs the sale of high-capacity ammunition magazines, bans so-called “switches” that allow semi-automatic firearms to fire rounds automatically, and expands “red flag” laws that allow judges to keep people who are considered dangerous away from firearms. Pritzker signed the legislation earlier this month as he began his second term. Democrats introduced the changes partly in response to a deadly shooting last year where a gunman used a high-powered rifle to kill seven and wound dozens more at a Fourth of July parade in a Chicago suburb.

But the US Supreme Court has struck down sweeping new gun control legislation in recent years. most notably in New York. And on Friday, a judge in effingham county, a conservative party in Illinois, temporarily blocked the law amid claims the new law violates the state constitution. There are at least two other legal challenges to the law, one at the state level and one in federal court.

In an interview with CBS News on Monday, Pritzker called the Effingham County case an example of gun rights advocates “buying places” to get a favorable ruling.

“There is always somewhere to go among the 102 counties of Illinois to make a case before a judge whose political future could depend on the decision he or she makes. So, look, it was decided wrong and it will be overturned.” I am very sure of that,” she said.

The governor also dismissed recent statements by county sheriffs in the state that they will not enforce the new gun law, noting that sheriffs represent a small number of the state’s total police force. “But let’s be clear. You don’t get to choose which laws you enforce when you’re in law enforcement. You have to, you know, enforce the laws whether you like them or not. You take an oath to do so. And these sheriffs have taken that oath “.

While Illinois has some of the strictest gun laws in the country, Chicago remains a hub for gun-related crime. Pritzker said he believes the new legislation will help address gun violence in the city in part because it combines with steps taken in recent years to boost mental health treatment options across the state.

“There is a great investment that we have made in the last two years in the prevention of crime that is in the prevention of violence in the streets, many programs for children to work during the summers, etc. So, we are doing a lot. What “The thing that makes me think we’re going to have a decrease in crime in our state is that we’re doing all of those things. You can’t just do one.”

But Pritzker criticized Republicans who “talk a lot about mental health and say what we really need to do is not pass assault weapons bans, but we really need mental health treatment. But they voted against it every time in our state. And we’ve made significant strides in mental health treatment. So, you know, they’re hypocrites. They talk about it a lot, mostly because they don’t want to talk about the fact that if there were an assault weapons ban, it really reduces the amount of shootings. We saw it nationally. And, you know, for 10 years we had an assault weapons ban in the United States and you saw the number of shootings go down. So, we anticipate that happening here.”

Pritzker, 58, won re-election in November by defeating Republican Darren Bailey, an election-denying candidate backed by former President Donald Trump. A member of the wealthy Pritzker family, which owns the Hyatt hotel chain, he is worth an estimated $3.5 billion and has financed his state campaigns, fueling speculation that he could take advantage of his governorship and launch a future presidential campaign.

“Democratic governors are doing it all across the country and I’m very proud of what we’re doing here in the Midwest,” he said, pointing to a number of accomplishments: raising the minimum wage, legalizing cannabis, removing people registries with low-level drug convictions, boosting college scholarships, and expanding access to daycare and preschool.

“We are a beacon for the country, in the middle of the country, and certainly a beacon for, you know, between the coasts. Illinois has really been at the forefront of these issues,” he said.

But Pritzker said he has no plans to run for president any time soon.

“I have just been re-elected as Governor of Illinois. I intend to serve for four years. And frankly, I intend to help rename Joe Biden at a convention in Chicago in 2024,” he said.

The Windy City is running to host the 2024 Democratic National Convention, and Pritzker, a longtime generous donor to the party, is aggressively lobbying President Biden and party leaders to choose their state to host the quadrennial gathering. for the first time since 1996.

As Biden prepares to run for re-election, “he’s got to make sure that people remember who he is,” Pritzker said. “You know, this is a person with great empathy. And I think he demonstrated not only that empathy, but the ability to get things done in the worst crisis, perhaps in all of our lives.”

“Think about the congressional challenge you received, where, you know, [a] 50-50 in the Senate, a very close House and managed to get massive bills that really got the economy out of recession in a very short period of time,” the governor added. boast when running for re-election,” noting that three to five major bills have been passed despite “very slim majorities” in the last Congress.

“This is a guy who served in the United States Senate, he worked across the aisle when he was in the Senate, and now he’s doing it as president,” Pritzker said of Biden. “He shows that having experience doing that and having the respect of people across the hall, you know, being able to sit in a room and really come to an agreement, that’s something you need in these very turbulent times.” difficult times in which the nation seems divided. This is a guy who brings people together.”

Grace Kazarian contributed to this report.

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