Emergency petition over Illinois ‘assault weapons’ ban filed at US Supreme Court

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By Carina

A recent emergency petition to the U.S. Supreme Court by opponents of Illinois’s “assault weapons” ban, led by the National Association for Gun Rights, firearm store owner Robert Bevis, and his store, Law Weapons & Supply, seeks to challenge a Democrat-supported ban on certain semiautomatic rifles and magazines.

 This petition follows a denial of a preliminary injunction against the ban by a lower court, including a similar prohibition in Naperville, a Chicago suburb.

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Barrett dismisses Illinois gun ban challenge; Appeals Court upholds

Justice Amy Coney Barrett, who handles emergency petitions from Illinois, had previously rejected a similar challenge against the state ban in May 2023 without comment or public dissent from any justice.

In response to the recent ruling by the Chicago-based 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, the petitioners have raised concerns, arguing the court’s decision rests on “stealth interest balancing” and questions the differentiation between ordinarily dangerous firearms and those deemed “especially dangerous” or “militaristic.”

The appeals court had ruled in favor of the bans, suggesting that semiautomatic firearms and certain magazines are more akin to “machine guns and military-grade weaponry” than to weapons used for individual self-defense.

Illinois gun ban challenged for constitutional concerns

This ruling comes in the wake of Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker enacting a law in January banning over 170 semiautomatic firearms and magazines exceeding a specific capacity.

The law requires grandfathered firearms to be registered with state policy by January 1, 2024, with non-compliance leading to criminal penalties.

The plaintiffs, referencing the Supreme Court’s 2008 decision in District of Columbia v. Heller, argue that laws banning weapons commonly used for lawful purposes are “categorically unconstitutional.”

They emphasize that no regulation during the Founding Era burdened the right of self-defense as much as an absolute ban on common-use weapons.

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Supreme Court broadens gun rights in recent decisions

The Supreme Court, in recent years, has broadened gun rights through landmark rulings, interpreting the Second Amendment more expansively.

This includes recognizing a constitutional right to carry a handgun for self-defense publicly and striking down a New York state law in 2022.

The court’s current term includes several firearm-related issues, such as the rights of individuals under domestic violence orders and cases involving the National Rifle Association.

Illinois enacts strong assault weapons ban post-tragedy

Gov. Pritzker’s law followed a tragic event where a shooter used an AR-15-style rifle in a mass shooting at a Fourth of July parade in Highland Park, Illinois.

Pritzker labeled the law as one of the “strongest assault weapons bans” in the U.S., intended to curb the spread of such firearms.

Mr. Bevis, arguing against the law, stated to a local outlet that the Second Amendment covers “arms that are commonly possessed by law-abiding citizens for lawful purposes, especially self-defense in the home.”

His initial petition highlighted the detrimental impact of the law on his business, which relies on the sale of popular firearms.

Challenges to Illinois assault weapons ban mount

U.S. District Judge Virginia Kendall previously rejected Bevis’s appeal, deeming the ban “constitutionally sound” and highlighting the particular danger posed by “assault weapons.”

Meanwhile, in a separate petition, Republican state representative Dan Caulkins has urged the Supreme Court to invalidate the law, alleging bias in the Illinois Supreme Court ruling due to justices receiving donations from a pro-gun control PAC.

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