In an expected move, national gun advocacy groups have taken action to challenge Illinois’ restrictive ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines at the U.S. Supreme Court level. The Colorado-based National Association for Gun Rights and the Nevada-based Firearms Policy Coalition filed petitions on Monday urging the highest court in the land to overturn a ruling by the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals. This appellate court had decided in a 2-1 vote against issuing a temporary injunction on the Illinois law, controversially suggesting that the constitutional rights enshrined in the Second Amendment have their limits.
The move by these organizations is part of a broader, strategic litigation effort initiated immediately following the enactment of the Illinois ban in January 2023. This legislation was the state’s narrowly focused response to a series of tragic mass shootings across the country, notably including a devastating incident during a Fourth of July parade in Highland Park in 2022, where a gunman using a rifle with a high-capacity magazine claimed seven lives and caused widespread harm.
The National Association for Gun Rights has been actively contesting both the state-level prohibition and a similar ordinance in Naperville, Illinois, through a lawsuit in the Northern District of Illinois. Despite facing a setback in February 2023, when a federal judge declined to issue a preliminary injunction that would halt the law’s enforcement, their fight continues unabated.
Similarly, the Firearms Policy Coalition, in collaboration with the Illinois State Rifle Association and the Second Amendment Foundation, succeeded in obtaining a preliminary injunction in the Southern District of Illinois, a clear indication that the ban could indeed infringe upon Second Amendment rights. This victory underscores the legal contention that the law’s broad prohibitions are constitutionally questionable.
Both cases, among others, were consolidated for an appeal before a three-judge panel of the 7th Circuit, which ultimately decided not to prevent the law’s implementation. This decision has now propelled the issue to the doorstep of the U.S. Supreme Court, signaling a critical juncture in the ongoing defense of gun ownership rights.
Another petition was filed recently to challenge a similar ban in Maryland, while Virginia lawmakers are pushing for approval of a bill to ban so-called assault weapons as well. As these bans continue to crop up at the state level, they continue to be challenged and ultimately it may take the Supreme Court to settle the issue.
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