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Federal Judge Blocks Illinois ‘Assault Weapons’ Ban

Gun owners and Second Amendment advocates won a huge victory on Friday with U.S. District Judge Stephen McGlynn’s order granting a preliminary injunction against the enforcement of Illinois’ ban on so-called assault weapons and large capacity magazines.

McGlynn delivered a strong rebuke to the architects of the ban in his ruling, noting the Highland Park Independence Day was the impetus for the ban and wondering whether the “senseless crimes of a relative few be so despicable to justify the infringement of the constitutional rights of law-abiding individuals in hopes that such crimes will then abate or, at least, not be as horrific?”

The answer, according to McGlynn, is “likely no“; reason enough to grant an injunction and halt enforcement of the law’s provisions.

The Supreme Court in Bruen and Heller held that citizens have a constitutional right to own and possess firearms and may use them for self-defense. PICA seems to be written in spite of the clear directives in Bruen and Heller, not in conformity with them. Whether well-intentioned, brilliant, or arrogant, no state may enact a law that denies its citizens rights that the Constitution guarantees them. Even legislation that may enjoy the support of a majority of its citizens must fail if it violates the constitutional rights of fellow citizens.

McGlynn is well aware that two other district judges in Illinois have recently declined to issue injunctions, ruling instead that the new bans are most likely constitutional under the theory that AR-15s and other semi-automatic rifles are “unusually dangerous” and that the bans are a response to an “unprecedented change” in society; namely acts of mass shootings. The Seventh Circuit is the next stop for the state’s gun ban, and McGlynn provided the appellate court judges with a well-reasoned and thoughtful argument in favor of the injunction, starting with the state’s argument that “non-essential accessories” like magazines that can hold more than 15 rounds fall outside the scope of the Second Amendment.

PICA outlaws possession of a “semiautomatic pistol” with a detachable magazine if it is equipped with any of the following: “a threaded barrel,” “a shroud attached to the barrel or that partially or completely encircles the barrel,” “a flash suppressor,” or “arm brace.” PICA further outlaws possession of a magazine for a handgun capable of holding more than 15 rounds of ammunition and of “[a] semiautomatic pistol that has a fixed magazine with the capacity to accept more than 15 rounds.” Defendants contend that such items are not necessary to the functioning of a firearm and are thus not “arms” and therefore not protected by the Second Amendment.

Defendants’ argument is not persuasive. The Seventh Circuit has recognized the Second Amendment as extending to “corollar[ies] to the meaningful exercise of the core right to possess firearms for self-defense.” It is hard to imagine something more closely correlated to the right to use a firearm in self-defense than the ability to effectively load ammunition into the firearm. The Third Circuit recognized the importance of this corollary and held that “a magazine is an arm under the Second Amendment.”

As does McGlynn. But what about those “unusually dangerous” guns banned by PICA? Again, McGlynn says they’re covered by the Second Amendment.

Defendants first argued that PICA is consistent with historical tradition because “[n]either large capacity magazines nor assault weapons were in common use when the Second and Fourteenth Amendments were ratified.” This argument is “bordering on the frivolous” because “the Second Amendment extends, prima facie, to all instruments that constitute bearable arms, even those that were not in existence at the time of the founding.”

Defendants also argued that “[t]he Act restricts weapons and accessories not commonly used for selfdefense today.” Similarly, this argument is misplaced. Bruen clearly holds that the Second Amendment protects “possession and use” of weapons “in common use” not just weapons in common use for self-defense as Defendants’ argued. Even if there was a requirement that the “common use” of an “arm” be self-defense, AR-15 style rifles would meet such a test considering that 34.6% of owners utilize these rifles for self-defense outside of their home and 61.9% utilize them for self-defense at home.

READ 35 COMMENTS
  • Jbeak says:

    What needs to be done is to enact swift justice for the lawbreakers. Not draw a trial out for years and years, until people forget the horribleness of the crime of murder.

  • Earl says:

    Every Year Millions of crimes are prevented by armed citizens. This is never reported, and some PD departments don’t track it. The FBI has statistics on this and there is overwhelming evidence that with armed citizens, Crime/murder would Skyrocket.

  • Richard Mundy says:

    First of all the use of the term Assault Weapons speaks volumes from the left, there is no such thing as this is all made up to make something it is not. It’s a semi-automatic rifle that is all it is. The problem in this country is that it has been high-jack by a bunch of Progressive Democrats Marxist.

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