Illinois gun owners hesitate to register assault weapons amid national debate

In the United States this year, there have been at least 37 mass killings, resulting in the tragic deaths of at least 195 people, not including the shooters.

President Joe Biden visited Lewiston, Maine, on Friday to mourn with a community that recently experienced the deadliest mass shooting in the state's history, where 18 lives were lost. During his address, President Biden called for a ban on assault weapons, emphasizing the grim reality that everyday places have become deadly battlegrounds.

In Illinois, such a ban is already in effect. Assault weapon owners in the state have until the end of the year to register their firearms and attachments with the Illinois State Police. However, many gun owners have expressed reluctance to comply with this requirement.

A public hearing in Chicago on Friday provided an opportunity for some gun owners to voice their concerns about the ban.

"The Protect Illinois Communities Act is doing the opposite. It's turning law abiding citizens into felons while criminals continue to outgun the average citizen," said Kurt Wilcox, gun rights advocate.

"I see so many shootings close to us every day. Just four days ago in North Lawndale, 15 minutes away from my campus, a semi-automatic weapon was used to shoot 15 people at a Halloween party. This year alone, we have seen at least 17 shootings occur at US colleges and universities. I can truly say policies like this help me feel safer on campus," said a volunteer from Students Demand Action.

New data recently released by the Chicago Police Department reveals that officers have confiscated more than 10,000 illegal firearms since the beginning of this year, which includes over one-thousand assault weapons. The numbers underscore the ongoing challenge of gun violence in the city.