Illinois Assault Weapons Ban

Supreme Court declines to hear challenge to Illinois' assault weapons ban

Opponents of the measure believe the court will take up another challenge later this year

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The U.S. Supreme Court decided Tuesday not to take up a challenge to Illinois’ assault weapons ban allowing the 18-month-old Protecting Illinois Communities Act to stand.

“This is great news for those of us who have been fighting for reducing gun violence in Illinois,” said State Representative Bob Morgan of Highland Park.

Morgan was the chief sponsor of the act, which bans the sale of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines like those used in the July 4 attack two years ago that killed seven people and injured dozens more in suburban Highland Park.

“This week and month are incredibly difficult for my community; a lot of people are still struggling. In fact, some are still physically healing,” he said.

Attorney General Kwame Raoul released a statement saying he is pleased the law remains in place.

“With today’s Supreme Court decision, the Protect Illinois Communities Act remains the law of the land, and my office will continue to vigorously defend its constitutionality as litigation returns to the lower courts," he said.

In part, the high Court decided not to hear the case because it is still being decided by the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. Second Amendment advocates said they were disappointed by the decision.

“It’s certainly a topic that would have benefitted a number of courts as far as clarification, but at the same time a little unsurprising about where it was from a procedural aspect,” said Adam Kraut, Executive Director of the Second Amendment Foundation.

Conservative justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas said they would have allowed the high court to hear oral arguments in the case. Thomas issued a statement saying, “if the seventh Circuit ultimately allows Illinois to ban America’s most common civilian rifle, we can-and should-review that decision once the cases reach a final judgement.” Thomas added: “The court must not permit the Seventh Circuit to relegate the Second Amendment to a second-class right.”

More challenges to the Illinois ban are working their way through the federal appeals process, two of them in the Northern District of Illinois, one in the Southern District. Brady United’s chief legal officer Doug Letter said the gun violence group was “extremely pleased” by the Supreme Court’s decision. He said the issue will get back to the Supreme Court in the future.

“Whether it is in these cases involving Illinois or cases from other federal courts around the United States who knows,” he said.

Letter said he does expect the Illinois law to withstand judicial scrutiny.

“I think there is a very, very strong case here,” he said.

An attorney representing Highland Park victims and their families said the Court’s decision comes at an especially sensitive time.

“This day will be a constant reminder of the tragedy,” Michael Bonamarte said. “Hopefully the victims, my clients and some other victims will find solace in this decision."

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