Legislation /

Federal Judge Strikes Down Illinois Assault Weapons Ban

The Judge stated in his opinion that no state may pass any law that violates rights guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution

A federal judge in Illinois has blocked enforcement of the state’s newly-passed assault weapons ban, dealing a temporary blow to officials working to enact stricter gun control measures.

U.S. District Judge Stephen McGlynn issued an injunction, declaring in his opinion that the state’s Protect Illinois Communities Act (PICA) was unconstitutional and inconsistent with the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark Bruen decision, which greatly expanded firearm ownership rights throughout the U.S.

“Can 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? More specifically, can PICA be harmonized with the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution and with Bruen? That is the issue before this Court,” wrote McGlynn, who was appointed by former President Donald Trump.

“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,” he added. “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.”

Legal news publication Jurist explains:

To obtain a preliminary injunction in federal court, the movant must show that (1) they will suffer irreparable harm in the interim prior to a final resolution; (2) there is no adequate remedy at law; and (3) they have a reasonable likelihood of success on the merits. The court ruled that the plaintiffs satisfied all three requirements and that there is a reasonable likelihood that PICA does in fact violate the second amendment.

Illinois officials argue that the assault weapons ban is consistent with historical tradition because neither assault weapons nor high-capacity magazines were in common use when the second amendment was ratified. However, McGlynn said that argument was “bordering on the frivolous” because the U.S. Supreme Court has already ruled that the second amendment extends to firearms that didn’t exist at the time of America’s founding.

Days before, Illinois Northern District Judge Lindsay Jenkins, who was appointed by President Joe Biden, declined to issue the injunction days before, arguing that the government’s interest in public safety outweighs an individual’s constitutional rights.

PICA banned the possession, sale, or manufacture of dozens of firearms defined as “assault weapons.” It also banned magazines that hold ten or more rounds for a rifle and 15 or more rounds for a handgun. The Illinois general assembly passed the bill during a lame duck session earlier this year in January.

McGlynn acknowledged that gun control issues “are highly contentious and provoke strong emotions,” but noted that the state has a “wide array of civil and criminal laws that permit the commitment and prosecution of those who use or may use firearms to commit crimes.”

He also called on police and district attorneys to “take their obligations to enforce these laws seriously.”

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