The Supreme Court on Wednesday dismissed a Second Amendment appeal by gun owners and upheld an Illinois law banning the sale of rapid-fire assault weapons that have been used in mass shootings across the country.
In unsigned order without controversythe judges denied an emergency appeal asking them to block a local ordinance and state ban from taking effect.
While the court’s decision is not a decision on a broader constitutional issue, it’s a good sign for California and eight other states that also ban the sale of assault weapons.
Judges usually block a new law from coming into force if they consider it unconstitutional.
It was in the National Assn. for gun rights. Naperville.
Chicago’s 7th Circuit Court of Appeals said it would hear arguments on the constitutional issue at the end of June, and judges may have decided to wait for its decision.
The High Court has not ruled directly on whether an AR 15 type rifle is protected by the Second Amendment. It has in the past rejected 2nd Amendment challenges to similar state and local laws.
But gun rights advocates were buoyed last year when a more conservative court struck down laws in New York and elsewhere that barred many law-abiding gun owners from carrying concealed guns in public.
Judge Clarence Thomas wrote for a 6-3 majority that gun restrictions can only be maintained if they are “consistent with the national historical tradition of gun regulation.”
Less than two weeks after the announcement of the decision, a shooter armed with an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle and 30-round magazines opened fire at an Independence Day parade in Highland Park, Illinois. The weapon allowed the shooter to fire 83 shots in less than a minute, killing 7 and injuring 48 people.
In response, the city of Naperville and the state of Illinois enacted new laws prohibiting the sale and possession of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. Only the sale ban was to take effect immediately, and the gun store owner and several gun rights groups sued to block the measures as a violation of the 2nd Amendment.
Gun rights advocates have argued that millions of AR-15s have been sold in that country and that the 2nd Amendment is understood to protect “common use” firearms.
But today’s light semi-automatic weapons are nothing like the heavy and bulky muskets used in 1791. In defense of the ban, state lawyers argued that these rapid-firing rifles “were designed and marketed as military-style offensive weapons, not weapons. means of self-defense.”
A federal judge agreed and allowed Naperville’s ban to go into effect.
“The history of gun regulation shows that governments have the ability to regulate highly dangerous weapons,” said U.S. District Judge Virginia M. Kendall, “and assault weapons and high-capacity magazines fall into that category.”
The 7th Circuit Court refused to block both laws from going into effect while it considered the gun owners’ appeal.