Legislation targeting gun industry signed into law, but faces legal challenge

Over the weekend, Gov. Pritzker announced the signing of House Bill 218, which allows the Attorney General, counties, and private citizens to sue members of the firearm industry for vaguely defined so-called “unlawful business and marketing practices.”

Proponents claim the new law is intended to clarify that the gun industry is subject to Illinois’ Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act for marketing firearms, accessories and related products in a way that promotes illegal paramilitary or private militia activity in Illinois or that encourages people younger than age 18 to illegally possess, purchase, or use firearms.

Opponents of the new law note that the gun industry is already subject to the state’s Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act, like every other business. The changes within House Bill 218 have very little, if anything, to do with actual consumer fraud or deceptive business practices.

Opponents also point out that House Bill 218 was intentionally written with broad language to make it easier for the Attorney General and anti-gun groups to target gun manufacturers and Federal Firearms Licenses (FFLs) in order to put them out of business.

Two days after the Governor signed House Bill 218, opponents of the law filed a lawsuit in the federal Southern District of Illinois. The lawsuit claims the new law violates the First Amendment right to free speech, the Second Amendment right to bear arms, and the 14th Amendment guarantee of due process. The lawsuit also claims that the law imposes liability in Illinois for actions committed by other individuals or in other states and is preempted by the federal Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act.

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