The Illinois Supreme Court Upholds Ban on Semi-Automatic Rifles and Large Capacity Magazines
In a 4-to-3 decision, the Illinois Supreme Court has upheld the state’s ban on certain semi-automatic rifles and “large capacity magazines.” This decision, released on Aug. 11, affirms that the law does not violate the Illinois Constitution’s equal protection or three-reading requirement for special legislation.
The court’s 34-page decision explicitly states that it does not address the law’s implications on the Second Amendment.
The plaintiffs in this case, Decatur Jewelry, Law Abiding Gun Owners of Macon County, and individuals Dan Caulkins and Perry Lewin, argued that the law violated their equal protection rights and the state’s requirement for three public readings of a bill before it is passed.
However, the majority opinion of the court stated that the plaintiffs did not raise any direct Second Amendment issues, as equal protection and the right to keep and bear arms are separate legal concepts.
Prior to this decision, courts in Effingham County and Macon County had ruled the law unconstitutional. Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul appealed against those decisions to the Supreme Court.
The law, known as the Protect Illinois Communities Act, was signed by Gov. J.B. Pritzker in January 2023 and went into effect on Jan. 11. It prohibits certain types of semi-automatic rifles and magazines that hold more than 12 rounds of ammunition.
Under the act, existing firearms are grandfathered in if owners register them and pay a fee. The law also extends the term of an Illinois Firearms Restraining Order (FRO) from six months to one year and expands the list of people who can request a FRO from the court.
Additionally, the act raises the age to obtain a firearm owner identification card (FOID) to 21, with exceptions for those serving in the U.S. military or Illinois National Guard. It also allows guardian-supervised hunting or shooting sports.
Act Inspired by Mass Shooting
State Rep. Bob Morgan, a Democrat, sponsored the act after a mass shooting on July 4, 2022. During a July 4 parade in Highland Park, Illinois, a 22-year-old man opened fire, killing seven people and injuring many others.
While the law has faced opposition from most of Illinois’s county sheriffs and several state attorneys, Governor Pritzker has vowed to enforce it and take legal action if necessary.
The law has also been challenged in federal court, with U.S. District Judge Stephen McGlynn in East St. Louis presiding over the case.
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