The Catholic bishops of Illinois have applauded that state’s political leaders for enacting an assault weapons ban.
The new law passed on 11 January and took effect immediately.
It bans the sale or distribution of assault weapons, or semi-automatic rifles, shotguns and pistols designed for military use, as well as high-capacity magazines and ammunition devices capable of feeding 10 or more rounds into a gun chamber.
Those who currently own such weapons are required to register them with the state.
“The Catholic Conference of Illinois would like to commend the Illinois General Assembly and Governor J B Pritzker on banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines with the passage of House Bill 5471,” read a statement posted on the website of the state Catholic conference.
“Too many times our state has witnessed the horror of mass shootings, and we hope this legislation will help to provide some peace in our communities going forward,” the bishops continued.
“We are grateful for the ban of these deadly weapons in our state. We also recognize that, as was stated in the debate over the legislation, this will not solve all the challenges associated with mass shootings. There is much more to do.
“We live in a violent culture, mental health needs are many, and too many families are in crisis. We stand ready to work with the General Assembly to help address these challenges.”
The National Shooting Sports Foundation estimates there are 24.4 million semi-automatic weapons in circulation in the United States.
According to data from the Center for Disease Control, there were 1,745 gun-related deaths in Illinois in 2020, the last year for which data is posted.
Police statistics in Chicago indicated that there were 2832 gun-related incidents in 2022, and 695 homicides.
Illinois becomes the ninth state to adopt an assault weapons’ ban but it is not clear if the laws will withstand a constitutional challenge.
The conservative majority on the US Supreme Court has repeatedly thrown out efforts to restrict access to guns.