US appeals court upholds Illinois assault rifle ban News
IIIBlackhartIII / Pixabay
US appeals court upholds Illinois assault rifle ban

The US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit vacated a preliminary injunction on Friday against the Illinois assault weapon ban passed earlier this year. This allows the ban to go into effect.

Circuit Judge Diane Wood authored the 2-1 majority opinion of the court. Wood noted that, under the precedent of the Supreme Court case  New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, Inc. v. Bruen, the first step in Bruen analysis asks whether the legislation in question qualifies for protection under the Second Amendment. Wood found that the Second Amendment’s “plain text” of the term “Arms” does not include weapons reserved for military use, which is what the ban prohibits. Thus, Wood concluded that “military weapons lie outside the class of Arms to which the individual right applies.”

Circuit Judge Michael Brennan dissented from the majority opinion. Brennan found that the firearms that the ban applies to are protected under the Second Amendment. Because Brennan found that this first step was met, he moved on to the second part of the Bruen analysis. This second step calls on the “government [to] justify its regulation by demonstrating that it is consistent with the Nation’s historical tradition of firearm regulation.” Brennan then concluded that bans like this are not a part of the Nation’s history and tradition of firearm regulation.

In response to the ruling, Illinois Governor Pritzker stated:

The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals has affirmed what gun safety advocates have said from day one—the Protect Illinois Communities Act is a commonsense law that will keep Illinoisans safe. Despite constant attacks by the gun lobby that puts ideology over people’s lives, here in Illinois we have stood up and said ‘no more’ to weapons of war on our streets. This is a victory for the members of the General Assembly who stood alongside families, students and survivors who worked so hard to make this day a reality. Now Congress must act so Illinois is not an island surrounded by states with weak protections.

Earlier this year, Pritzker signed the challenged bill into law, instituting a statewide ban on the sale and manufacture of assault rifles. Known as the Protect Illinois Communities Act (PICA), the law prohibits the sale and manufacturing of assault weapon attachments, .50 caliber cartridges, any .50 caliber rifle and certain pistols. PICA defines assault rifles as any rifle that carries more than 15 rounds of ammunition. Pistols that carry more than 10 rounds of ammunition are also banned. Lastly, under PICA, anyone who was already in possession of newly outlawed weapons had until October 1 to report their ownership to the state government.

The bill was primarily a response to the Highland Park, Illinois shooting that occurred during a Fourth of July parade, which killed seven people and injured dozens more.

This is not the only litigation involving PICA. Soon after it was enacted, an Illinois state judge ruled that PICA violated the Illinois Constitution. However, the Illinois Supreme Court reversed this ruling in August.