August 14, 2023
NSSF Challenges Unconstitutional Illinois Law Attacking Free Speech, Blame-Shifting on Crimes
WASHINGTON, D.C. — NSSF®, The Firearm Industry Trade Association, filed a legal challenge to Illinois’ unconstitutional law that seeks to muzzle firearm manufacturers’ and retailers’ First Amendment right of free commercial speech and to regulate industry members’ commercial conduct in every state of the Union. Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed the Firearm Industry Responsibility Act into law and NSSF immediately filed its challenge.
“The flawed logic of this unconstitutional law is second only to the contempt for which the authors and Governor Pritzker hold for the Constitutionally-protected right of the citizens of his state to keep and bear arms,” said Lawrence G. Keane, NSSF’s Senior Vice President and General Counsel. “This law bans commercial free speech, which is protected by the First Amendment. It also requires firearm manufacturers and retailers to establish undefined ‘reasonable controls’ to prevent criminals from lying on background check forms. The irony is that the firearm industry works hand-in-hand with the ATF and Justice Department to prevent illegal straw purchases of firearms while the governor signs laws that set criminals free on the streets to prey on the innocent citizens of Illinois. Just like Governor Pritzker’s signature on a law banning cash bail, this law empowers criminals and punishes those who obey the law. We are confident that this unconstitutional law will not survive.”
Illinois’ Firearm Industry Responsibility Act criminalizes First Amendment-protected commercial free speech by banning advertising with vague definitions of “intent to appeal to minors.” Gun control politicians in Illinois are attempting to restrict law-abiding citizens from passing on safe firearm handling and shooting skills to the next generation by squelching ability to depict it in advertising. Only adults over the age of 18 can legally purchase a long gun and only adults over 21 can legally purchase a handgun.
This law also victimizes lawful firearm manufacturers and retailers for crimes committed by remote third parties. This law would allow lawsuits against firearm retailers for being the victims of “smash-and-grab” burglaries and robberies.
This law shifts the blame of responsibility for an illegal straw purchase from the criminal committing the crime to firearm manufacturers and retailers. The law requires manufacturers and retailers to employ ill-defined “reasonable controls,” yet each and every retail firearm purchase requires a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Form 4473 to be completed and signed by the purchaser attesting that the intended recipient of the firearm is, in fact, the purchaser. Lying on that form is a federal felony, punishable by up to 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
The firearm industry partners with the ATF and the Justice Department on the “Don’t Lie for the Other GuyTM” program to warn the public of the punishment for this crime. Individuals flouting the law are responsible for their criminal actions and must be held accountable. No business can be held responsible for the illegal and criminal acts of those who consciously choose to violate the law.
NSSF is the trade association for the firearm industry. Its mission is to promote, protect and preserve hunting and the shooting sports. Formed in 1961, NSSF has a membership of thousands of manufacturers, distributors, firearm retailers, shooting ranges, sportsmen’s organizations and publishers nationwide. For more information, visit nssf.org.
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