Illinois judge strikes down assault weapons ban

May 1, 2023

A federal judge in Illinois has blocked the state's sweeping assault weapons ban, citing last year's landmark Supreme Court decision upholding the Second Amendment.

U.S. District Judge Stephen McGlynn, a Trump appointee, found that the challengers were likely to succeed in their claim that the Protect Illinois Communities Act, or PICA, is unconstitutional.

The law bans assault weapons and "high capacity" magazines, defined as holding more than 10 rounds for rifles and 15 for handguns. Residents who already own AR-15s must register their rifles with the state.

The judge ruled that PICA likely cannot be reconciled with the Second Amendment and the Supreme Court's ruling in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, Inc. v. Bruen, which struck down gun restrictions untethered to the nation's "historic tradition."

Gun rights victory in Illinois

Democratic governor J.B. Pritzker signed the draconian ban after a mass shooting last summer at a July 4th parade in Highland Park, where seven people died.

In his ruling, McGlynn noted that the crimes of a few do not negate the rights of the law-abiding.

"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?" the judge wrote.

The judge found the ban imposes "irreparable harm" by effectively forcing citizens to purchase certain firearms in order to exercise their Second Amendment rights. McGlynn also noted that gun stores are losing irrecoverable income under the ban, which also constitutes an "irreparable harm."

"A constitutional right is at stake. Some Plaintiffs cannot purchase their firearm of choice, nor can they exercise their right to self-defense in the manner they choose," he wrote.

"Frivolous" arguments rejected

The state's ban fails to satisfy the Bruen test, which presumptively protects the right to bear firearms "in common use," McGlynn found.

Illinois failed to cite a historical analogue of its sweeping ban, McGlynn found, noting that AR-15s "are among the most popular arms produced" in the country and that some 39 million Americans own "high-capacity magazines" under the state's definition, a population over three times that of Illinois.

The state's historical argument that assault weapons and high-capacity magazines were not in "common use" at the time of the Founding is "bordering on the frivolous" because the Second Amendment's protections are not limited to firearms that existed at the time of the Founding, the judge noted.

Targeting the law-abiding

Governor Pritzker said he is "confident that as the case continues, this critical public safety law will ultimately be upheld as constitutional."

But the judge noted bluntly, "there is no evidence as to how PICA will actually help [protect] Ilinois Communities," and he observed that sheriffs throughout the state have already pledged not to enforce the ban.

The right to self-defense is particularly salient for Illinois residents, where violent criminals have been emboldened by a leftist agenda pushed by state and local Democratic leaders. Pritzker enacted a law late last year eliminating cash bail that is currently in litigation.

" A free people [claim] their rights, as derived from the laws of nature."
Thomas Jefferson
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