The Supreme Court has declined to rule on two Illinois laws restricting the sale of assault rifles and other high powered guns.
The state enacted limits on “the commercial sale of assault rifles” in January, which prohibited the purchase of 26 types of weapons, including AK-47s and AR-15s. It also included guns with high-capacity magazines.
The National Association for Gun Rights challenged the law, claiming it violated the Second Amendment. In February, a judge of the Federal District Court in Chicago ruled that the restrictions were “consistent with the Second Amendment’s text, history, and tradition.”
Judge Virginia M. Kendall wrote that “assault weapons pose an exceptional danger, more so than standard self-defense weapons such as handguns” and “are used disproportionately in mass shootings, police killings, and gang activity.”
“The text of the Second Amendment is limited to only certain arms, and history and tradition demonstrate that particularly ‘dangerous’ weapons are unprotected,” she said.
Lawyers for Naperville, an Illinois city that attempted to pass a similar ban before the state, concurred with Kendall’s evidence, noting that “criminals who engage in mass shootings overwhelmingly use assault weapons — not other firearms.”
Chicago federal appeals courts declined to block the laws while an appeal of Kendall’s ruling plays out. The Supreme Court now also refused to halt the regulations as the legal challenges move forward.
State officials filed their own brief with justices, which cited historical examples that fall in favor of the laws.
“During the founding era, Americans typically owned muskets for militia service and fowling pieces to hunt birds and control vermin,” the brief read. “Single-shot, muzzle-loading firearms remained the standard weapon up to and including the Civil War.”
The features of assault rifles “render them uniquely suitable as weapons of war but not commonly used or suitable for personal self-defense,” they argued.