Lawsuit amendment would stop Naperville police from enforcing city, state gun sales bans while cases are in court

A federal lawsuit challenging Naperville’s ban on semi-automatic firearm sales was amended this week to include the city’s police chief and a request that he be prevented from enforcing new city and state laws while the issue is in court.

The move comes just days after the city of Naperville filed its own request asking the suit from by Naperville gun store owner Robert Bevis and the National Association for Gun Rights be consolidated with similar cases against Highland Park and Cook County, all of which are pending in the Northern District of Illinois.

In the modification filed by Bevis and the gun association, Naperville Police Chief Jason Arres has been added to the case as well as a request that the judge issue a temporary restraining order stopping him from allowing police offers to enforce the gun sales ban adopted by the Naperville City Council in August.

Naperville has agreed not the enforce the law, which was scheduled to go into effect Jan. 1, until a judge rules on a temporary restraining order request that would put it on hold until the case is resolved.

The city’s ordinance prohibits the sale of assault rifles similar to those used in 2022 mass shootings in Highland Park; Uvalde, Texas; and Buffalo, New York.

It essentially applies to Naperville’s two gun stores, Range USA Naperville on Frontenac Court and Bevis’ Law Weapons & Supply on North Aurora Road, and to any licensed firearms dealers in the city. Private transfers and private sales are not affected.

The Illinois General Assembly approved a similar ban on the sale of most semi-automatic firearms earlier this month, which is also being challenged in court.

It went into effect Jan. 10 when Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed the legislation and also bans the sale of standard capacity magazines and requires existing owners of such weapons to register them with the state.

“Semi-auto and magazine bans are blatantly unconstitutional,” Dudley Brown, president of the National Association for Gun Rights, said in a news release.

“This bogus law violates the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens in Illinois. We were already suing Naperville and Highland Park over their gun bans, so amending our complaint to put the state law at issue in our case against Naperville was a no-brainer.”

The amended lawsuit says that Arres, as chief of police, has the duty to oversee the enforcement of all applicable state laws and city ordinances. But in enforcing the weapons bans, Arres “will deprive plaintiffs of their constitutional rights by enforcing these unconstitutional laws against them,” according to the complaint.

Naperville’s request for judge reassignment last week follows a similar motion from Highland Park to have its case heard by U.S. District Chief Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer, whose docket includes a case challenging a Cook County weapons ban.

The Naperville motion says all three lawsuits involve the same essential question of law: whether legislatures can lawfully prohibit assault weapons.

“Likewise, all actions raise many common questions of fact, including about how dangerous assault weapons are, how broadly Americans lawfully own and use them, and which historical weapons regulations are relevantly similar to them,” the motion said.

The consolidation would allow a single judge “to potentially adjudicate the constitutionality of all three ordinances at the same time, thereby saving enormous judicial resources,” the motion said.

Naperville’s legal request acknowledges the cases involve similar arguments, though they are not identical in every respect.

“While all three ordinances prohibit the sale of assault weapons, the Cook County and Highland Park actions challenge the ban on the possession of assault weapons. The Naperville action, by contrast, involves a challenge to Naperville’s prohibition of the commercial sale of assault weapons,” it says.