Skip to content

Supreme Court asked to halt Illinois assault weapons ban

The request cites last year’s decision that marked a change in the high court’s approach to the Second Amendment

Assault-style rifles are displayed at Freddie Bear Sports on January 11, 2023 in Tinley Park, Illinois.
Assault-style rifles are displayed at Freddie Bear Sports on January 11, 2023 in Tinley Park, Illinois. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Corrected 5:20 p.m. | An Illinois gun store owner and several gun rights groups asked the Supreme Court on Monday to pause the state’s bans on assault weapons and large capacity magazines while a challenge to the law plays out in the courts.

The emergency application comes after lower courts in the case declined to halt implementation of the Illinois measures, and as a Supreme Court ruling from last year has been used in dozens of cases seeking to challenge state and federal gun restrictions. In a separate case, a different federal judge in Illinois last week temporarily put the law on hold.

Gun store owner Robert Bevis argued in the high court filing that there “cannot be the slightest question” that Illinois’ restrictions violate the Second Amendment right to possess firearms.

The request cites last year’s Supreme Court decision in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc. v. Bruen, where the court struck down New York’s law about who can carry a concealed weapon. The case also marked a change in the court’s approach to the Second Amendment, emphasizing that laws restricting gun possession had to be based on historical examples.

Bevis wrote that lower courts, including the judge in the case, have not gotten the “message” the high court intended from Bruen.

“This Court intended Bruen to be a course correction and a reminder to the lower courts that the Second Amendment is not a second-class right,” Bevis said.

The Illinois state legislature passed the law last year and Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed it in January. Bevis challenged the law in federal court.

Judge Virginia Kendall of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois found the law “constitutionally sound” and found that assault weapons were a kind of “particularly dangerous weapon” that could be banned.

Bevis then appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit. In briefs in that appeal, Illinois argued that such weapons were not in “common use” at the time of the founding.

“The assault weapons restricted by the Act are not commonly used for self-defense; by design and in practice, they exist for offensive infliction of mass casualties,” the brief said.

The case is one of dozens working their way through the federal courts on the limits government can impose on gun ownership.

This report was corrected to include a separate federal court order that pauses the Illinois law.

Recent Stories

Key results from Georgia runoff, Virginia and Oklahoma primaries

CBO: Deficits and inflation higher, but so is economic growth

Senate Democrats try maneuver to pass ban on ‘bump stocks’

Senate report piles on new allegations of Boeing safety failures

Matt Gaetz goes on offensive as House Ethics offers update on probe

Senate spectrum bill markup scrapped over partisan differences