Illinois Supreme Court upholds assault weapons ban

August 11, 2023

The Illinois state Supreme Court on Friday, in a 4-3 ruling, upheld the state’s assault-style weapons ban.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed the bill into law in January. To date nine other states have also banned assault weapons: California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and Washington.

The Illinois law was crafted in response to a massacre at a July 4th, 2022 parade in Highland Park. The 19-year-old gunman in that mass shooting killed seven people and wounded dozens of others.

However, the law has faced numerous legal challenges, and a Macon County Circuit Court judge found earlier this year that exemptions to the law, including for law enforcement officers and armed guards at nuclear sites, violated the equal protection clause of the state’s constitution.

The Illinois Supreme Court agreed to fast-track the state’s appeal of that ruling. A 20-page majority opinion by the state Supreme Court reversed that equal protections-based judgment. 

However, the majority opinion did not rule whether the ban violated the 2nd Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, writing, “We express no opinion on the potential viability of plaintiffs’ waived claim concerning the Second Amendment.”

The plaintiffs’ attorney, Jerry Stocks, has asserted that the state Supreme Court misinterpreted his legal team’s arguments, insisting that ignoring the 2nd Amendment in the case was improper.

In May, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett, who hears applications from the Chicago-based 7th Circuit Court of appeals, briefly mulled temporarily halting Illinois’ assault weapons ban while the case played out, but ultimately denied the injunction.

According to the Giffords Law Center, Illinois is also one of nine states, along with Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York and Washington, as well as the the District of Columbia, which impose a minimum age requirement of 21 to purchase firearms.

PHOTO: Illinois Supreme Court

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