The U.S. Supreme Court has once again decided not to interfere with an Illinois law prohibiting “assault-style” rifles and high-capacity magazines.
This decision, announced on Thursday, stems from the state's response to the tragic mass shooting in Chicago's Highland Park suburb in 2022, which resulted in seven deaths and numerous injuries, Reuters reported.
The law, known as the Protect Illinois Communities Act, was enacted by Democratic Governor J.B. Pritzker in January. It specifically targets the sale and distribution of various high-powered semiautomatic firearms, including widely recognized models like the AK-47 and AR-15 rifles. Additionally, it restricts magazines that carry more than 10 rounds for long guns and 15 rounds for handguns.
This ruling came after the National Association for Gun Rights, along with Robert Bevis and his firearm store, Law Weapons & Supply, challenged the constitutionality of both the Naperville ordinance and the statewide ban. They argued that these laws infringed upon the Second Amendment right to "keep and bear" arms.
No justice publicly opposed this latest Supreme Court decision, which also follows a previous denial of the plaintiffs' injunction request in May.
The Chicago-based 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had earlier ruled against the challengers on November 3. The court concluded that the bans were likely lawful, citing that the Second Amendment pertains more to weapons intended for individual self-defense rather than military use.
The 7th Circuit further noted that assault weapons and high-capacity magazines bear a closer resemblance to machine guns and military-grade weaponry than to firearms typically used for personal defense.
This ongoing legal battle in Illinois reflects the broader, highly polarized national debate regarding the regulation of firearms and how to effectively address the endemic issue of gun violence in the United States, including frequent occurrences of mass shootings.
The Supreme Court, currently with a 6-3 conservative majority, has historically adopted an expansive interpretation of the Second Amendment. This includes broadening gun rights in three landmark decisions since 2008. Notably, in 2022, the court recognized a constitutional right to publicly carry a handgun for self-defense, leading to the overturning of a restrictive New York state law.