HomePoliticsThe Illinois Supreme Court upholds the state's assault weapons ban

The Illinois Supreme Court upholds the state’s assault weapons ban

By Nate Raymond

(Reuters) – The Illinois Supreme Court on Friday upheld a Democrat-backed ban on assault rifles and large-capacity magazines following a deadly 2022 mass shooting in the Chicago suburb of Highland Park that left seven people dead and dozens more wounded touched.

The state Supreme Court rejected, by a vote of 4 to 3, arguments by a group of plaintiffs led by a Republican state representative Dan Caulkins that the ban violated the Illinois Constitution by not applying the law equally to all citizens.

Democratic Governor of Illinois JB Pritzker called the ruling “a victory for advocates, survivors and families as it upholds this state law to combat gun violence and save countless lives.”

In January, he signed into law the measure, the Protect Illinois Communities Act, banning the sale and distribution of many types of high-powered semi-automatic “assault weapons,” including AK-47 and AR-15 rifles and large-capacity magazines. .

Justice Elizabeth Rochford, a Democrat, wrote that the equal protections of the Constitution and the special legislative clauses did not prevent state legislatures from treating certain citizens differently from others by exempting them from the law.

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Those exemptions applied to people who received firearms training while working in law enforcement, the military and private security and those who already owned the banned weapons before the ban went into effect.

“The law attempts to balance public safety with the expertise of the trained professionals and the expectation interests of the detached individuals,” Rochford wrote in an opinion joined by three of her fellow Democratic justices.

The ruling overturned a lower court’s ruling in favor of the plaintiffs. Justices Lisa Holder White and David Overstreet, both Republicans, and Mary Kay O’Brien, a Democrat, disagreed.

Prosecutors also argued that the law violated the right to keep and bear arms under the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. But Rochford said prosecutors waived that argument by not raising it at the lower court level.

That Second Amendment argument is central to separating pending federal lawsuits that also challenge Illinois law.

The conservative-majority U.S. Supreme Court last year, when it lifted New York State’s gun restrictions on the carrying of concealed firearms, announced a new legal standard requiring that gun restrictions be “consistent with this country’s historic tradition of of firearms regulation”.

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That ruling has made it more difficult for lower courts to enforce new or existing gun regulations, several of which have been declared unconstitutional.

(Reporting by Nate Raymond in Boston; editing by Jonathan Oatis and Alexia Garamfalvi)

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