Chicago news roundup: Illinois weapons ban faces federal suit, Mayor proposes CTA bus cams and more


Various firearms on display at Marengo Guns in Marengo, Ill., Jan. 29, 2021.

Brian Rich/Sun-Times file

Good afternoon. Here’s the latest news you need to know in Chicago. It’s about a five-minute read that will brief you on today’s biggest stories.

This afternoon will be cloudy with a high near 40 degrees. Tonight will see some rain mixed with sleet and a low near 36. Showers are likely tomorrow with a high near 44.

Top story

Illinois State Rifle Association, gun stores file federal lawsuit challenging assault weapons ban

The Illinois State Rifle Association has filed a federal lawsuit challenging the state’s newly enacted assault weapons ban, saying it violates the Second Amendment.

Plaintiffs also include St. Clair County resident Dane Harrel; C4 Gun Store, LLC; Marengo Guns, Inc.; Firearms Policy Coalition, Inc.; and the Second Amendment Foundation.

The lawsuit appears to be the first in federal court to challenge Illinois’ new weapons ban, but it is part of a burgeoning legal effort aimed at undoing the new law. Other lawsuits have been filed in state court. More are expected in federal court. It’s not clear which will gain the most traction.

The federal lawsuit, filed yesterday in the Southern District of Illinois, alleges that Illinois’ assault weapons ban denies citizens “their fundamental, individual right to keep and bear common arms.” It argues that the guns and magazines Illinois banned are actually in common use and “cannot be unusual or dangerous” — a distinction that would remove them from Second Amendment protection.

“They cannot be banned, and the Illinois laws challenged herein must be declared unconstitutional,” the lawsuit says.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker last week signed the measure that immediately banned the sale of assault weapons in Illinois and capped the purchase of magazines at 10 rounds for long guns and 15 for handguns. It also made rapid-fire devices, known as “switches,” illegal because they turn firearms into fully automatic weapons. Those already owning the banned guns would be allowed to keep them but would have to register them with the Illinois State Police by Jan. 1.

The suit comes as several other lawsuits have popped up in southern Illinois, including the complaint filed Tuesday in Effingham County by former Illinois attorney general candidate Tom DeVore on behalf of more than 800 plaintiffs. The suit seeks a temporary restraining order to halt enforcement of the law.

Another suit filed on Jan. 13 in Crawford County claims the law’s provisions requiring gun owners to register their assault weapons violates the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution, and that the law violates the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms, including for self-defense.

Tina Sfondeles and Jon Seidel have more on the challenges facing the weapons ban here.

More news you need

A man with disabilities was shot and critically wounded this morning as he and members of his family waited for a bus outside their home in Back of the Yards, according to the local alderperson. Our Tom Schuba has more on this heartbreaking developing story here.

The parents of Elizabeth Grace “Lily” Shambrook, the 3-year-old killed by a truck driver as they biked in Uptown last year, hope that a lawsuit they filed yesterday will improve safety for all bicyclists. The lawsuit alleges negligence against the truck driver and the truck’s owners, and also ComEd, which owned a truck parked in the bike lane. The suit also alleges misconduct by the city of Chicago, claiming it did not do enough to prevent the tragedy.

During a City Council meeting today, Mayor Lori Lightfoot proposed installing CTA bus cameras and other video surveillance to nail motorists who block bus lanes, bike lanes and loading zones. The ordinance would plunge Chicago deeper into the world of video surveillance and automated ticketing.

Mayoral challengers Brandon Johnson, Paul Vallas and Jesus “Chuy” Garcia have closed the fundraising gap with Mayor Lightfoot, who is still spending twice as much money as she’s raising, but none of them have caught millionaire businessman Willie Wilson. That’s the bottom line of the last quarterly reports to be filed with the state before the Feb. 28 mayoral election. Our Fran Spielman has more on what the new reports show here.

Federal safety inspectors have found that workers at Amazon warehouses in Waukegan and two other cities are at “high risk” of lower-back injuries and other health problems because of work rules “designed for speed but not safety.” It’s the second time in two months that the three warehouses have been cited for safety-related violations.

Senior dogs looking for their retirement homes might have better luck thanks to an adoption event from PAWS Chicago in honor of legendary actress and comedian Betty White. The Betty White Challenge Senior Pet Adoption event reduces adoption fees for senior dogs to as low as $101, according to the organization.

A bright one

Glen Ellyn pedestrian tunnel is filled with trees, thanks to Pilsen artist’s mural

Pilsen artist Juan De La Mora describes the mural that he recently painted inside a pedestrian tunnel in Glen Ellyn as “really an homage to the trees.”

Maple, apple, oak, ash and honey locust trees are shown in images that consume the tube-like space, which is 12 feet in diameter and stretches more than 90 feet beneath railroad tracks in a residential area of the west suburb. The colors and foliage differ from one side of the tunnel to the other in an effort to reflect the four seasons. One end includes flowery buds on branches — a nod to spring. Next to those are trees bearing the thick, green leaves of summer. There are also yellows and oranges of fall and the barren branches of winter.

The color of the sky also changes.

“In spring, it’s a lighter blue,” says De La Mora, 44, who had two assistants help with the mural, Carla Alvarado and Marissa Mora. “It’s darker as it gets toward the winter.”

This mural in the Taylor Avenue pedestrian tunnel was done by Pilsen artist Juan De La Mora.

Robert Herguth/Sun-Times

The project was initiated by the College of DuPage as part of an effort by the school to create and celebrate public art across DuPage County. The idea was to reflect in some way Glen Ellyn and “its history or environment.”

De La Mora did some research and found that Glen Ellyn has long been associated with trees.

“I was looking to celebrate trees and the influence that the four seasons have on their tree canopies and on the sky,” says De La Mora, who titled the mural “The Grove,” a nod to what was once a heavily forested area.

The trees he painted are types still found around Glen Ellyn.

We’ve got more on De La Mora and his work here.

From the press box

There’s been plenty of time for the Bulls to drink the Parisian wines and partake in the fine cheeses. Tomorrow, the fun ends when the team faces the Pistons and it’s back to business, Joe Cowley writes.
The Sky will take on the Minnesota Lynx in the WNBA’s first-ever game played in Canada. The matchup will be May 13 at Scotiabank Arena, home to the Toronto Raptors.
Bears offensive coordinator Luke Getsy will get a chance to see some draft prospects up close as one of the coaches for the Senior Bowl.

Your daily question☕

Who makes the best tavern-style pizza in Chicago? Tell us why.

Send us an email at and we might feature your answer in the next Afternoon Edition.

Yesterday we asked you: What’s something that can only be found in your neighborhood — and nowhere else in the city? 

Here’s what some of you said…

“You can only follow find Reuter’s Bakery in my neighborhood. Best paczki on earth.” — Jo Ann Reksel

“A fantastic little park jutting out into the lake as a peninsula — Promontory Point.” — Pierce Reade

“The 44th is the only ward in the city where tourists from Indiana outnumber Illinoisans on a daily basis.” — Mary Ann Rosenblum

“The sound of the rail yard — Clearing.” — Mike Messina

“The zoo in Lincoln Park — it’s free and contains a wonderful variety of animals and architecture.” — Jonathan Boyer

“The best German food is in North Center — Laschets.” — Jane Borton

“In Buena Park on the east side of Lake Shore Drive at Buena Avenue is the Peace Garden, a one-of-kind tribute to encouraging peace locally, nationally and internationally. With flagstone structures, a small waterfall and lush landscaping it is also a place to contemplate your own internal peace.” — Gene Tenner  

Thanks for reading the Chicago Sun-Times Afternoon Edition. Got a story you think we missed? Email us here.

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