Illinois Semiautomatic Gun Ban Stands

Illinois Semiautomatic Gun Ban Stands

In a significant legal development, the U.S. Supreme Court decided not to intervene in the ongoing debate over Illinois’ semiautomatic gun ban, effectively leaving the state’s restrictive law in place. This decision, announced on a Thursday, marks the second time within a span of six months that the highest court in the land has chosen not to challenge the Illinois legislation.

The Illinois ban on assault weapons, including AR-15 semiautomatic weapons, was enacted following the tragic 2022 Independence Day parade shooting in which seven individuals lost their lives and 48 others were wounded. During this incident, the gunman fired 83 rounds in less than a minute using an AR-15, a type of weapon directly impacted by the ban. The law prohibits the ownership of semiautomatic weapons as well as magazines that allow for the rapid firing of multiple rounds without reloading.

This decision by the Supreme Court aligns with its previous stance, established last year by the conservative majority. The Court had ruled that for gun restrictions to be constitutional, they must be analogous to laws that existed during the nation’s founding. Challenging the Illinois law, a gun retailer and a gun rights advocacy group argued that the ban does not conform to the nation’s historical approach to firearms regulation and thus fails to meet constitutional standards.

However, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, comprising a diverse ideological panel, upheld the Illinois law. They interpreted the Supreme Court’s recent decision on the right to bear arms as applying only to weapons commonly used for lawful purposes. The panel categorized semiautomatic weapons as more akin to machine guns and military-grade weaponry, not the variety of firearms typically used for individual self-defense.

Gun groups have countered this interpretation, asserting that the state’s ban effectively prohibits firearms that are chosen by millions of Americans for lawful reasons. However, the Supreme Court’s decision to leave the Illinois law in place is not an endorsement or rejection of the merits of the case. With no conflicting decisions from lower appeals courts on this issue, the justices may have seen no pressing need to intervene without such a conflict.

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