HomeTop StoriesIllinois will ban advertising of guns allegedly marketed to children and militants

Illinois will ban advertising of guns allegedly marketed to children and militants

SPRINGFIELD, Illinois (AP) — Illinois will soon ban advertising firearms that officials determine pose a threat to public safety or appeal to children, militants or others who might later use the guns illegally, while the state continues its search. continues to curb mass shootings.

Gun rights advocates say the plan, which Democratic administration JB Pritzker has promised to sign, is an unreasonably vague decree that violates not only the constitutionally protected right to guns, but also freedom of speech.

The key exhibit in Democratic Attorney General Kwame Raoul’s efforts is the JR-15, a smaller, lighter version of the AR-15 semi-automatic rifle advertised with the slogan, “Get ’em One Like Yours.” The maker says it was purposely made smaller, with extra safety features, to suit younger shooters who are learning from adults how to safely maneuver such a weapon. Raoul says it is marketed to children and may entice them to skip adult supervision and start shooting.

Opening the door to judicial challenges is part of the ongoing effort by Democratic lawmakers who control the state House to stamp out gun violence, which was made more complicated by the U.S. Supreme Court’s extension of gun rights a year ago. Pritzker also this year signed into law a ban on semi-automatic weapons, a law that gun rights advocates continue to challenge in federal court.

Illinois would be the eighth state to pass legislation allowing such lawsuits against manufacturers or distributors of firearms. The legislation comes after the deadliest six months of mass killings on record since at least 2006 — all but one involved guns.

Raoul finds precedent in the 25-year-old settlement with major tobacco companies and more recently with vaping ads.

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“We’ve gone after the marketing that has historically fueled underage consumption of products that are harmful to them,” Raoul said. “The firearms industry should not be immune to the standards we set for other industries.”

In addition to other industries not producing constitutionally protected products, the National Shooting Sports Foundation, an industry association that has filed federal lawsuits in nearly every state that has passed a similar law, denies it.

“They are infringing on your Second Amendment rights by taking away your First Amendment rights,” said foundation spokesperson Mark Oliva.

Without specific legislation, states are largely barred from legal action by a 2005 federal law that prohibits lawsuits blaming manufacturers for the subsequent criminal use of a purchased gun. It grew out of activist mayors in the late 1990s suing gun manufacturers for causing public nuisance, such as Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley’s $433 million action in 1998, which the Illinois Supreme Court dismissed in 2004.

But federal law allows for legal action if a state explicitly names firearms and behaviors of their manufacturers in state law, which is what Raoul’s plan would do. He won over lawmakers by showing them ads that they decided went too far.

“Some of the ads I’ve seen are just stomach-turning…” Don Harmon, of Oak Park, who sponsored the legislation.

The ad for the JR-15, a smaller, lighter .22 caliber rifle, was one of them. An emailed statement from the manufacturer, Wee 1 Tactical, said the gun has safety features not found on any other gun.

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“The JR-15 .22 Youth Training Rifle is for adults who want to oversee the safe introduction of hunting and shooting sports to the next generation of responsible gun owners,” the statement said. “Parents and guardians who want to pass on this American tradition have been purchasing lighter, small-bore training rifles for youth for decades.

Raoul said he has no gun makers “in his so-called crosshairs. … It is not our interest to go fishing.” He hopes that the law will deter questionable practices and that legal action will not be necessary.

New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Washington, California, Hawaii and Colorado have adopted similar plans. The shooting sports group has filed federal lawsuits in all but Colorado and none have settled. Despite the legal action, the laws are in effect everywhere except New Jersey, which has blocked implementation for members of the shooting sports group, according to the Brady Campaign, which has intervened in each case on behalf of the defendants.

Connecticut does not have an exemption from federal law, but courts decided that the state’s statutes were broad enough to allow a $73 million lawsuit with Remington early last year for families of the victims of a 2012 mass shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown.

Other campaigns Raoul has followed see manufacturers linking themselves to the military or police, claiming they are the Pentagon’s first choice for a handgun or long rifle — regardless of whether or not they are. This, he said, suggests that such claims attract people with ideas about forming illegal private militias.

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That idea — and the issue of advertising to children — was included in an executive order from President Joe Biden in March to end violence. It included extensive background checks and the use of red flag laws. Biden also encouraged the independent Federal Trade Commission to conduct an analysis of how gunmakers “market firearms to minors and … to all citizens, including through the use of military imagery.”

The White House referred questions about the investigation to the FTC, where spokesman Douglas Farrar declined to comment.

On the suggestion that advertising is aimed at children or militants, Oliva of the shooting sports group pointed out that no one under 18 should own a gun and that a minor’s access to a gun must be controlled by a parent. Advertising a gun’s suitability for combat use makes sense because serious gun owners want the most rugged available, he said.

Oliva and other critics scoff at the proposal’s “reasonable controls” standard, defined as “reasonable procedures, safeguards and business practices.” a former Springfield lobbyist for gun rights groups.

“They come in through the back door and try to bankrupt the industry by inflating their legal bills while playing with free money,” Vandermyde said.

The bill’s house sponsor, Democratic Representative Jennifer Gong-Gershowitz, of Glenview, stressed that the measure is not intended to elect firearms for corporate deception or fraud.

“This does not exclude the firearms industry,” Gong-Gershowitz said. “It just makes it very clear that the firearms industry, like any other industry, is prohibited from engaging in unfair or deceptive sales and marketing.”

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