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Illinois Defends Ban on Assault Weapons At Supreme Court

Illinois told the Supreme Court it should not interfere with the state’s ban on assault rifles, arguing Monday that its law poses no conflict with precedent because the Second Amendment does not protect AR-15s and similar weapons, according to Courthouse News Service. “By prohibiting the manufacture and sale of weapons and magazines increasingly used in the deadliest mass shootings, the Act comfortably fits within this pattern of regulation in response to new forms of violent crime perpetrated with technologically advanced weapons,” wrote Illinois Solicitor General Jane Elinor Notz. The state passed its ban on assault weapons last year in response to the Independence Day parade massacre that killed seven people in Highland Park, Ill. The Chicago suburb where the July 4 shooter fired 83 rounds from a semiautomatic AR-15 rifle already had an ordinance that prohibited the sale of assault weapons, but the gun had been purchased elsewhere in the state. Other Illinois municipalities began reviewing their policies on assault weapon sales after the shooting. Shortly after Naperville passed its own ordinance, Illinois passed the Protect Illinois Communities Act, banning the sale of assault weapons and large-capacity magazines.


Gun advocates claim the ban clashes with Supreme Court precedent, citing last term's ruling in which the conservative majority swapped a historical test in place of the categorical test established in the 2008 case District of Columbia v. Heller that is sed to evaluate gun regulations under the Second Amendment. Last year's New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc. v. Bruen requires gun laws to be analogous to gun regulations in the 1700s. Lower courts have yet to agree on how similar the historical comparison must be. Illinois claims its ban on assault weapons passes Bruen’s test because assault weapons are not used for self-defense. AR-15s and similar weapons were designed for the military with the goal of increasing “the effectiveness of killing enemy combatants in offensive battlefield situations,” the state argues. Tracing the origins of AR-15s used today to models created for the military in the 1950s, Illinois says these same weapons were used in the 1960s in field tests in Vietnam. Because these weapons were designed for the military, Illinois claims they do not serve a purpose in self-defense scenarios. The law does not affect sales of handguns, rifles, and shotguns, so, the state argues, it is analogous to historical precedents.

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