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Federal Judge Blocks Enforcement of Illinois Ban on Higher-Powered Firearms and Large-Capacity Magazines

A federal judge in southern Illinois has issued an injunction blocking enforcement of the state’s new ban on many higher-powered firearms and large-capacity ammunition magazines, just days after a counterpart in Chicago ruled the opposite way.[0] The sale of assault-style weapons and high-capacity magazines is prohibited by the Illinois law, and those who possess such weapons must register them with the Illinois State Police. The Governor of Illinois signed a bill prohibiting the sale of military-style firearms and magazines with high capacity. On January 10th, J.B. Pritzker.[1] The Illinois State Police mandate that individuals who own such a weapon must register it with them.[1] In January, the assault weapon ban was passed by the Illinois General Assembly during a special session held for outgoing lawmakers.[2] The statement was issued after a tragic incident at a Fourth of July procession in Highland Park, where seven individuals lost their lives and numerous others were wounded or emotionally affected.[3]

In January, Governor JB Pritzker signed a ban that prohibits the sale, delivery, and purchase of specific firearms and high-capacity magazines.[4] However, U.S. District Judge Stephen McGlynn questioned whether “the senseless crimes of a relative few” can “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?”[2] In his 29-page ruling granting a preliminary injunction in a set of consolidated lawsuits, McGlynn asked if the state law “can be harmonized with the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution.”[0]

According to the state's argument, the law complies with historical norms as assault weapons and large-capacity magazines were not in widespread use during the ratification of the Second and 14th Amendments.[5] McGlynn dismissed the argument as “bordering on the frivolous” by pointing out that the Second Amendment has been interpreted by the Supreme Court to apply to firearms that were not in existence during the drafting of the Constitution.[5]

In Illinois, the sale of assault weapons is prohibited by law, and the acquisition of magazines is limited to 10 rounds for long guns and 15 for handguns. The use of switches, which can quickly convert firearms into fully automatic weapons, is prohibited by law.[6] A long list of semiautomatic rifles and handguns, referred to as “assault weapons” along with large-capacity magazines that hold 10 or more rounds for a rifle and 15 or more rounds for a handgun, are prohibited from being possessed, sold or manufactured under the law. The ban does not apply to particular individuals, including law enforcement officials and military personnel on active duty.[3] The legislation prohibits the use of any kit or tool that can enhance the firing speed of a semi-automatic weapon. Additionally, the purchase of specific magazines is restricted by the law.[7]

There are numerous unresolved cases in Illinois state court, and on May 16, the Illinois Supreme Court will hear oral arguments for one case from Macon County that contests the law. There is another federal case currently awaiting decision in the Southern District of Illinois, with a judge in East St. Louis having recently listened to oral arguments. A case is currently before the Illinois Supreme Court, which aims to invalidate the state law on the grounds of violating the Illinois state constitution.[3]

The proprietor of a gun store in Naperville has appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court to prevent the enforcement of Illinois' prohibition on assault weapons as he contests the legislation in federal court.[8] In a previous lawsuit filed by a Naperville gun shop owner, a federal judge in Chicago issued a comparable ruling that modifies both a local ban and the state law.[9] The U.S. 7th[9] The ruling was upheld by the Circuit Court of Appeals and the owner of the gun shop plans to take the case to the U.S. Supreme Court for appeal.[10]

The issue of gun control is polarizing in the United States, with some arguing that it is a fundamental right enshrined in the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, while others argue that it is necessary to prevent senseless acts of violence. The debate is likely to continue as more cases make their way through the courts.[11]

0. “Illinois ban on high-powered firearms blocked by federal judge downstate; Gov. Pritzker’s office ‘confident’ law will be upheld” Yahoo News, 28 Apr. 2023, https://news.yahoo.com/illinois-ban-high-powered-firearms-205400589.html

1. “Naperville gun shop owner takes his case against state ban to U.S. Supreme Court” Daily Herald, 27 Apr. 2023, https://www.dailyherald.com/news/20230426/naperville-gun-shop-owner-takes-his-case-against-state-ban-to-us-supreme-court

2. “Federal judge grants injunction temporarily blocking enforcement of Illinois gun law” FOX 32 Chicago, 28 Apr. 2023, https://www.fox32chicago.com/news/judge-illinois-assault-weapons-ban-intended-to-protect-public-safety

3. “Federal judge refuses to block assault weapons ban enforcement” Capitol News Illinois, 27 Apr. 2023, https://capitolnewsillinois.com/NEWS/federal-judge-refuses-to-block-assault-weapons-ban-enforcement

4. “Southern District of Illinois judge rules statewide injunction against weapons ban” WAND, 28 Apr. 2023, https://www.wandtv.com/news/southern-district-of-illinois-judge-rules-statewide-injunction-against-weapons-ban/article_dd583fee-e5fd-11ed-9935-7f3c65e952c1.html

5. “Court finds ‘likely' 2nd Amendment violation days after different federal judge declined similar action” WVIK, 28 Apr. 2023, https://www.wvik.org/illinois/2023-04-28/court-finds-likely-2nd-amendment-violation-days-after-different-federal-judge-declined-similar-action

6. “Federal judge blocks enforcement of Illinois' assault weapons ban” Chicago Sun-Times, 28 Apr. 2023, https://chicago.suntimes.com/2023/4/28/23703313/federal-judge-blocks-enforcement-of-illinois-assault-weapons-ban

7. “Federal judge grants injunction temporarily blocking enforcement of Illinois gun law” Fox News, 28 Apr. 2023, https://www.foxnews.com/politics/federal-judge-grants-injunction-temporarily-blocking-enforcement-illinois-gun-law

8. “Naperville gun shop owner appeals his case against state ban to U.S. Supreme Court” Chicago Sun-Times, 27 Apr. 2023, https://chicago.suntimes.com/politics/2023/4/27/23700460/assault-weapons-ban-naperville-gun-shop-owner-supreme-court

9. “Illinois ban on high-powered firearms blocked by federal judge downstate” Brunswick News, 28 Apr. 2023, https://thebrunswicknews.com/news/national_news/illinois-ban-on-high-powered-firearms-blocked-by-federal-judge-downstate/article_3960116d-87f5-52d7-8781-766d32226f0f.html

10. “Federal judge blocks Illinois assault weapons ban” CBS Chicago, 29 Apr. 2023, https://www.cbsnews.com/chicago/news/illinois-assault-weapons-ban-injunction-federal-judge

11. “Federal judge grants injunction on Illinois assault weapons ban” WGN TV Chicago, 29 Apr. 2023, https://wgntv.com/news/illinois/federal-judge-grants-injunction-on-illinois-assault-weapons-ban/