Newsletter: Illinois AR-15 Registration Flops

This week, we saw the effect of the Illinois “assault weapon” ban, and it was about what many might have expected.

Only a tiny portion of the state’s gun owners actually registered any of the guns affected by the ban before the deadline to do so ran out on Monday. The reason many might have expected that outcome is because it’s the same one we’ve seen from similar schemes across the country. Contributing Writer Jake Fogleman takes a look at the history of registration and confiscation efforts.

Illinois wasn’t the only state making news with its gun restrictions. It’s much harder to know how many people are complying with it, but an administrative stay allowed California to implement its effective ban on gun carry throughout the state on Monday too.

We also got more evidence the gun market has found its new floor at the end of 2023. Sales were up in December and the fourth quarter too. This year is likely to see more demand thanks to the election too. At least, that’s one of the predictions Jake and I make in our look forward at what to expect for guns in 2024.

Speaking of looking forward, I was on CNN yesterday morning to preview the NRA’s upcoming corruption trial in New York. The stakes are high for the group and the gun-rights movement at large. Here’s video of that interview.

Plus, gun-rights lawyer Kostas Moros joins the podcast to discuss his recent win against California’s latest gun-carry restrictions. As I mentioned, that win has since been stayed, but Moros lays out the details of the case and where it goes from here.

AR-15s on display at Shot Show 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada
AR-15s on display at Shot Show 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada / Stephen Gutowski

Just 1% of Illinois Gun Owners Register ‘Assault Weapons’ Ahead of Ban
By Jake Fogleman

Only a tiny fraction of Illinois gun owners registered their AR-15s and similar firearms before the state’s ban officially took effect.

Fewer than 30,000 of the state’s Firearms Owner Identification (FOID) card holders registered firearms recently classified as “assault weapons” by the end of the December 31 registration deadline, according to updated data the Illinois State Police (ISP) released on Tuesday. That means only 1.2 percent of the state’s 2.4 million documented gun owners complied with the state’s terms for allowing continued ownership of AR-15s despite enforcement of the ban beginning on Monday.

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A collection of AR-15s on sale at a December 2023 gun show
A collection of AR-15s on sale at a December 2023 gun show / Stephen Gutowski

Analysis: Another Failed Gun Registration Effort [Member Exclusive]
By Jake Fogleman

We found out this week few people in Illinois complied with the state’s registration requirement, but that’s the outcome that should have been expected.

Just one percent of Illinois gun owners registered now-prohibited AR-15s and similar firearms before the state’s ban officially took effect, according to updated data from the Illinois State Police. In total, 29,357 individuals out of 2,415,481 active Firearm Owner’s Identification (FOID) card holders registered 68,992 firearms, 42,830 “accessories,” and 528 entries for “ammunition” by the time the window closed at the end of the year.

That’s almost certainly lower than what lawmakers were hoping to achieve with their sales ban and registration scheme. The fact that so few went along with the plan, despite the threat of potential criminal penalties, suggests a concerted effort on the part of many gun owners to engage in civil disobedience against a law they opposed from the start.

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A holstered handgun on display at the 2023 NRA Annual Meeting
A holstered handgun on display at the 2023 NRA Annual Meeting / Stephen Gutowski

California’s Sweeping Gun-Carry Restrictions Go Into Effect Despite Court Ruling Them Unconstitutional
By Stephen Gutowski

Most of California will be off-limits for even licensed gun carriers as the new year begins.

That’s because of a stay issued by a federal appeals court that, at least temporarily, undoes a lower court ruling against the state’s sweeping new restrictions. The order allowed the state’s new “gun-free zones,” which cover most public places and even private stores, to go into effect at midnight on Monday. It will remain in effect until another Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals panel, which will hear the merits of the challenge to Senate Bill 2 (SB2), decides what to do with the case.

The panel that issued the stay did not explain why it did so in its order.

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Customers handle some pistols at a gun show booth in December 2023
Customers handle some pistols at a gun show booth in December 2023 / Stephen Gutowski

Gun Sales Rise at the End of 2023
By Stephen Gutowski

The last three months of 2023 reversed a years-long downward trend in gun-related background checks.

The 2023 fourth quarter saw a 4.6 percent increase in sales run through the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) compared to a year earlier, according to an industry report released on Wednesday. The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), the gun industry’s trade group, said adjusted NICS numbers indicated there were more than 4.7 million gun sales from October through December. It reported nearly 1.8 million in December 2023 alone, a 1.6 percent increase over 2022.

“Americans showed they want their Second Amendment rights by the millions – once again,” Mark Oliva, an NSSF spokesperson, said in a statement. “These are solid figures that reflect the mood of Americans and the desire to exercise Second Amendment rights.”

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Podcast: Gun-Rights Lawyer Explains Recent Win Against California’s New Carry Restrictions
By Stephen Gutowski

This week, we’re looking at a federal judge’s ruling against the Golden State’s latest “gun-free zones.”

So, we’ve got one of the lawyers who won the case on to explain it. Kostas Moros, who represented the California Rifle and Pistol Association (CRPA), joins the show to recount his arguments and the judge’s decision.

Plus, Contributing Writer Jake Fogleman and I discuss our exclusive story on how Hawaiians are effectively barred from buying guns for the next few weeks.

You can find the show on your favorite podcasting app or by clicking here. Video of the episode is available on our YouTube channel.

Customers examine handguns at a 2023 gun show
Customers examine handguns at a 2023 gun show / Stephen Gutowski

Analysis: What’s in Store for Guns in 2024 [Member Exclusive]
By Jake Fogleman and Stephen Gutowski

2023 was a momentous year for American gun politics. 2024 stands to be even more consequential.

This year was the first full year since the Supreme Court set a new legal standard for lower courts to use when reviewing gun cases in New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen. That gave rise to more than 1,252 Second Amendment court challenges, a rate of more than three per day, on laws ranging from hardware bans to carry permit rules and even categories of people barred from owning firearms.

At the same time, the year featured another spate of horrific mass shootings—the second-highest single-year total on record, according to The Violence Project. The continued scourge invigorated new calls for gun control that extended to places where it has not been traditionally popular, like Tennessee and Maine.

It’s likely both sides of the gun debate will be energized heading into the new year. Here’s a look at some of the big things to watch for in 2024.

If you’re a Reload Member, click here to continue reading. If not, buy a membership today for exclusive access to this and hundreds of other pieces!

Outside The Reload

Maine lawmakers prepare for gun control debate as they return to the Legislature | News Center Maine | By David Guildford

Gun rights groups sue Colorado over the state’s new ban on ‘ghost guns’ | AP News | By Jesse Bedayn

LaPierre, Longtime N.R.A. Leader, Faces Trial That Could End His Reign | The New York Times | By Danny Hakim

Study: Most Ohio Cities Saw Drop in ‘Gun Crime’ After Permitless Carry Took Effect | Bearing Arms | By Cam Edwards

Oregon gun control Measure 114 hearing does not change Court’s ruling: it’s unconstitutional | KDRV 12 | By Jerry Howard

That’s it for this week in guns.

If you want to hear expert analysis of these stories and more, make sure you grab a Reload membership to get our exclusive analysis newsletter every Sunday!

I’ll see you all next week.

Stephen Gutowski
The Reload

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Created by potrace 1.16, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2019


Created by potrace 1.16, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2019

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