Cook County has an assault weapon ban. However, items which have been banned are readily available in Cook County. How is this possible? The short answer is the Cook County AWB doesn’t apply to ALL of Cook County.
Notice: The state of Illinois has passed an assault weapon ban, which supercedes this ban. However it is very likely the Illinois ban will be ruled unconstitutional. Due to the Illinois ban, many of the arguments contained within this article no longer apply, until the Illinois ban is ruled unconstitutional.
Cook County has the Blaire Holt Assault Weapon Ban which reads long, I mean very long. The Cook Blair Holt Assault Weapon ban bans nearly every semi-automatic rifle and shotgun. It even bans some pistols. The Cook AWB bans firearms based on name as well as cosmetic features. The full text can be read here:
But, there are a few major exclusions. Those exclusions would be “home rule” and “preemption”. Let’s start with a press release directly on the official Cook County website which reads: “The assault weapons ban applies to all municipalities in Cook County unless a municipality has its own law on the books.” This is because Illinois is a home rule state and gives municipalities the ability to enact their own ordinances. When an ordinance of a home rule unit conflicts with a county ordinance, the home rule unit ordinance shall prevail. This means if a town has a conflicting law or ordinance, different from a county law or ordinance, the town law wins.
Let’s look at the language from the Illinois Constitution…
Constitution of the State of Illinois
SECTION 6. POWERS OF HOME RULE UNITShttps://www.ilga.gov/commission/lrb/con7.htm
(a) A County which has a chief executive officer elected
by the electors of the county and any municipality which has
a population of more than 25,000 are home rule units. Other
municipalities may elect by referendum to become home rule
units. Except as limited by this Section, a home rule unit
may exercise any power and perform any function pertaining to
its government and affairs including, but not limited to, the
power to regulate for the protection of the public health,
safety, morals and welfare; to license; to tax; and to incur
(c) If a home rule county ordinance conflicts with an
ordinance of a municipality, the municipal ordinance shall
prevail within its jurisdiction.
Let’s examine a few home rule communities in Illinois. These communities happen to all be within Cook County. Let’s discuss The Village Niles, the City of DesPlaines, and the Village of Inverness. By the way, both Niles and DesPlaines have registered gun stores.
The village of Niles Ordinance (ARTICLE IX. – WEAPONS AND FIREARMS) bans the sale, but not possession, of so-called assault weapons. Niles ordinance does define these assault weapons. DesPlaines has an ordinance (6-2-13) that bans the possession of certain items by minors but has no ban on the sale or lawful possession of any firearms. Inverness has a ban on missiles. Yes, missiles. Inverness does not have a ban on semi-automatic rifles or handguns of any kind. The only Inverness ban is firearms in possession by minors and missiles!
The Village of Niles https://library.municode.com/il/niles/codes/code_of_ordinances?nodeId=COOR_CH66OFMIPR_ARTIXWEFI
The City of DesPlaines ordinance 6-2-13 https://codelibrary.amlegal.com/codes/desplainesil/latest/desplaines_il/0-0-0-4083
the Village of Inverness https://codelibrary.amlegal.com/codes/invernessil/latest/inverness_il/0-0-0-8027
There are 87 home rule units within cook county and while I didn’t check the ordinances of all units, I did check many. Every town, city, or village that I examined has some form of weapon or firearm prohibition, though very few had so-called “assault weapon” bans. To the best of my knowledge, only the following Cook municipalities have any sort of ban on the possession of assault weapons: Buffalo Grove, Dolton, Evanston, Hazel Crest, Homewood, Lincolnwood, Riverdale, and Skokie.
Pistols and preemption.
Illinois law has contained preemption since 2013. Preemption prohibits municipalities from regulating handguns and ammunition for handguns as well as prevents municipalities from regulating the transportation of any firearm. However, preemption does allow existing bans on long guns to remain on the books. For that reason, nearly all handguns are legal in all parts of Illinois. This includes AR and AK pistol variants. In this article, ( https://www.alphakoncepts.com/blog/the-ar15-pistol-in-chicago/ ) I go into great depth discussing preemption and pistols.
(430 ILCS 65/13.1) (from Ch. 38, par. 83-13.1)
Sec. 13.1. Preemption.
(a) Except as otherwise provided in the Firearm Concealed Carry Act and subsections (b) and (c) of this Section, the provisions of any ordinance enacted by any municipality which requires registration or imposes greater restrictions or limitations on the acquisition, possession and transfer of firearms than are imposed by this Act, are not invalidated or affected by this Act.
(b) Notwithstanding subsection (a) of this Section, the regulation, licensing, possession, and registration of handguns and ammunition for a handgun, and the transportation of any firearm and ammunition by a holder of a valid Firearm Owner’s Identification Card issued by the Illinois State Police under this Act are exclusive powers and functions of this State. Any ordinance or regulation, or portion of that ordinance or regulation, enacted on or before the effective date of this amendatory Act of the 98th General Assembly that purports to impose regulations or restrictions on a holder of a valid Firearm Owner’s Identification Card issued by the Illinois State Police under this Act in a manner that is inconsistent with this Act, on the effective date of this amendatory Act of the 98th General Assembly, shall be invalid in its application to a holder of a valid Firearm Owner’s Identification Card issued by the Illinois State Police under this Act.
(c) Notwithstanding subsection (a) of this Section, the regulation of the possession or ownership of assault weapons are exclusive powers and functions of this State. Any ordinance or regulation, or portion of that ordinance or regulation, that purports to regulate the possession or ownership of assault weapons in a manner that is inconsistent with this Act, shall be invalid unless the ordinance or regulation is enacted on, before, or within 10 days after the effective date of this amendatory Act of the 98th General Assembly. Any ordinance or regulation described in this subsection (c) enacted more than 10 days after the effective date of this amendatory Act of the 98th General Assembly is invalid. An ordinance enacted on, before, or within 10 days after the effective date of this amendatory Act of the 98th General Assembly may be amended. The enactment or amendment of ordinances under this subsection (c) are subject to the submission requirements of Section 13.3. For the purposes of this subsection, “assault weapons” means firearms designated by either make or model or by a test or list of cosmetic features that cumulatively would place the firearm into a definition of “assault weapon” under the ordinance.
Enforcement of the Cook County AWB
In 2018 the Chicago Tribune documented a fact that was well-known within the gun community. There has been no enforcement of the Cook AWB by someone who has a FOID card. And, since 2018 it still seems the ordinance has never been enforced. I can find no evidence of arrests of a person with a FOID card being charged for violating the Cook County AWB anywhere, even in Northbrook.
Summarizing the Cook County Assault Weapon Ban
It would seem that the Cook County Assault weapon ban only applies to the few municipalities within Cook county that have their own ban, to municipalities that are not considered home rule, and to unincorporated areas of Cook County.
In closing, I am not a lawyer and nothing I say is legal advice. One can be arrested for any reason or no reason at all. We are all guilty until proven innocent. However, the above paragraphs are likely to be similar to what your lawyer may argue. As a final reminder, if the state passes an assault weapon ban, the above becomes moot.