Supreme Court Puts the Brakes on Second Amendment Rights in Illinois

On May 17, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected an urgent request for an injunction, allowing Illinois’ tough new gun control law to continue in force.

It implies that the legislation, which outlaws so-called “assault weapons,” will stand until lower courts consider the case. An Illinois gun store owner petitioned the Supreme Court to overturn the restriction on many different types of weapons and “large capacity” magazines.

No explanation was provided by the Supreme Court or Justice Amy Coney Barrett, who was given the gun store owner’s urgent request, as no public dissents were made accessible.

The proprietor of the gun store is suing the state, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit is currently reviewing the case. The law has not yet received a definitive judgment from the Chicago-based court, but regardless of the outcome, the decision will probably be challenged.

A federal judge blocked the gun law in a different instance. The 7th Circuit Court has, however, temporarily stayed that judgment.

Additionally, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals has accelerated the review of at least five cases that involve the Illinois statute. A similar lawsuit opposing the bill is currently being considered by the Texas Supreme Court.

The “Protect Illinois Communities Act” was passed by the state earlier this year; it forbids the procurement, resale, transport, and production of so-called assault rifles as well as magazines that can store more than 10 rounds. It expressly designated AK-47- and AR-15-style guns as “assault weapons” under the law, and it also calls for those who have already purchased semi-automatic rifles to register their ownership with Illinois State Police.

In accordance with a law’s frequently asked questions, “No, Illinois residents cannot purchase an AR-15 or assault weapon beginning January 11, 2023, unless subject to one of the narrow exemptions.” The law forbids “a magazine, belt, drum, feed strip, or similar device that has a capacity of, or that is easily restored to accept, more than 10 rounds of ammunition for long guns and more than 15 rounds of ammunition for handguns; or any combination of parts from which a device described can be assembled,” according to the FAQ.

Democrat J.B. Pritzker, governor of Illinois, signed the legislation into law.

“For the past four years, my administration and my colleagues in the State Capitol have been battling the powerful forces of the NRA to enshrine the strongest and most effective gun violence legislation that we possibly can,” he said. “I couldn’t be prouder to say that we got it done. And we will keep fighting—bill by bill, vote by vote, and protest by protest—to ensure that future generations only hear about massacres like Highland Park, Sandy Hook, and Uvalde in their textbooks.”

Gun rights enthusiasts, including Robert Bevis, the owner of a gun store in Naperville, filed lawsuits to challenge the state law as well as a related local ordinance that was adopted in the city of Highland Park. Second Amendment supporter groups have frequently attacked the measure as unconstitutional. Following a mass shooting at a Highland Park Fourth of July parade in July of last year that left several people dead, those regulations were enacted.

“The challenged laws ban arms commonly possessed by law-abiding citizens for lawful purposes. Heller’s central holding is that a categorical ban on arms held by law-abiding citizens is unconstitutional,” his lawyers wrote to the 7th Circuit judges last month, referring to a 2008 ruling by the Supreme Court on the landmark District of Columbia v. Heller case, in which the high court found that a District law regulating gun ownership to be unconstitutional.

Contending that Bevis’s constitutional rights were violated, his lawyers added:

“One would suppose that the district court would apply the Heller test or, failing that, at least explain why it believed the test is not applicable. The district court did neither. It erred when it simply ignored Heller’s central holding. Nowhere in its opinion does it apply, or even acknowledge, Heller’s holding in this regard.”

Bevis informed a nearby news source that he feels the state-wide prohibition violates Americans’ Second Amendment right to keep and bear guns as the reason behind his decision to initiate a legal challenge.

“I wake up one morning, I come into work, and find out that they are going to ban assault weapons the following week,” he told a local NBC affiliate earlier this year. “It’s unconstitutional. Our Second Amendment provides us a right to keep and bear arms, and this is taking away.”

According to some local gun store proprietors, the term “assault weapons” has become politicized. The term “assault weapon” was coined by proponents of gun control in the late 1980s in an effort to confuse semi-automatic rifles with machine guns. Maxon Shooters Supplies owner Dan Eldridge told WTTW-TV that the phrase was made up and had no real meaning.

The guns that were outlawed in the state were described by Eldridge as “semi-automatic, center-fire rifles that accept detachable magazines.” He noted that AR-15-style rifles are popular across the United States and that several million people own such firearms in the state of Illinois alone.

“It’s America’s favorite rifle platform, and it is that because it is highly adaptable to all shapes and sizes of people,” Eldridge said. “Easily accessorized. Built on a standard. Available at a wide variety of price points and features. It really is a ‘modern sporting rifle,’ as the industry likes to call it.”">