Illinois Supreme Court upheld assault weapons ban, but there’s more work to do

Gun Rights

On Friday, the Illinois Supreme Court made the right decision to protect our streets, schools, grocery stores, parks, churches, malls, theaters and more from the scourge of gun violence and mass shootings.

In a 4-3 ruling, the state’s highest court upheld the landmark Illinois law banning the sale of semiautomatic assault weapons, large-capacity ammunition magazines and so-called “switches” that turn regular firearms into fully automatic weapons.

It’s a significant victory, no doubt, heralded by gun safety activists, Gov. J.B. Pritzker and others. But opponents are vowing to continue the legal fight. A second lawsuit is still pending before the justices and other challenges are being fought in federal court.

The work to protect Illinoisans — and ultimately, Americans all across the country — from the threat of being gunned down while simply going about their daily routine is not done.

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The state Supreme Court rejected a lawsuit brought by state Rep. Dan Caulkins of Decatur, who argued that the law violated the state constitution.

But a much bigger hurdle remains in the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, where six lawsuits claiming that the law violates the 2nd Amendment have been consolidated into a single case. Oral arguments were heard on the matter in June, but it’s unclear when the appeals court will rule.

Helping other states, and the nation

It would be a huge step forward for gun safety all across the country if the federal appeals court, as we hope it will, upholds the law.

“One reason it’s so important to defend our law is it establishes the groundwork for other states and for a [national] ban on assault weapons, high-capacity magazines,” as John Schmidt of Gun Violence Prevention PAC-Illinois told us. “if we can win in federal court, that’s a critical step.”

The Protect Illinois Communities Act, passed in January and quickly signed into law by Pritzker, was sparked by the horrific Highland Park Fourth of July mass shooting. Illinois became the ninth state to ban or restrict assault weapons; since then, Washington became the 10th.

More state legislatures, and Congress too, should stand up to the NRA and others who continue to put the right to own battlefield weapons over the rights of everyday people to safely attend a Fourth of July parade, shop at a grocery store, go to school or church or a block party or anyplace else in public.

No reasonable person can question the need, in the face of 432 mass shootings so far this year. Countless other shootings take place every day too.

The numbers don’t lie. Americans deserve better.

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