Illinois’ two-week-old ban on semi-automatic weapons prohibits “ubiquitous” firearms in a “radical” challenge to the Second Amendment to the Constitution, claims a federal lawsuit filed Tuesday by the National Rifle Association.
The powerful NRA joined a parade of gun rights activists seeking to remove the newly minted ban on dozens of rapid-fire pistols and long guns, as well as high-capacity magazines or accessories.
Democratic Gov. JB Pritzker signed the law on January 10 in response to the shooting deaths of seven people at the Fourth of July parade in the Chicago suburb of Highland Park, which also injured 30 people. He has said that he believes the law will withstand court challenges over its constitutionality.
Two individual gun owners from Benton, nine miles (about 14 kilometers) northeast of St. Louis, are the lead plaintiffs in the NRA’s lawsuit, the second to be filed in US District Court for the Southern District of Illinois. They are joined by two gun dealers and shooting range operators from southern Illinois, as well as a Connecticut-based shooting sports trade association.
The NRA’s brief notes that the US Supreme Court’s landmark 2008 Heller decision refuses to leave any restrictions on “weapons in common use” in place today unless another ruling found last summer, there is evidence of an “enduring American tradition” of restraint.
The Illinois law “takes the radical step of banning nearly all modern semi-automatic rifles, the most popular type of rifle in the country, owned by tens of millions of Americans,” the document says.
The 24 million AR-15 semi-automatic rifles in circulation in the United States far outnumber the 16 million Ford F-150 trucks, the country’s best-selling vehicle, according to the lawsuit.
A similar constitutional challenge was filed last week in the Benton-based Southern District. It was put forward by gun owners and gun rights groups.
Other lawsuits, filed in southern Illinois county courts, challenge the legislative process for passing the law.
The plaintiffs in all of the lawsuits are likely to seek the southern Illinois courts due to a stronger provision toward Second Amendment rights. Guns are viewed much more favorably in central and southern Illinois, where there is a larger population of hunters and shooters, compared to northern metropolitan areas, particularly Chicago, which continues to fight deadly gun violence. .
The NRA-backed lawsuit also argues that the law’s ban on high-capacity ammunition cartridges (no more than 10 bullets for rifles and 15 for pistols) and a long list of attachments and other accessories is just as problematic because guns in question can’t work without them, so plugins are constitutionally protected “firearms” by inference.
Pritzker and his national allies refer to the weapons as “assault weapons.” The pleading points to the tradition of bearing arms and includes a glossary of terms. He explains that the restricted semi-automatic weapons are not machine guns: ejecting each round requires pulling the trigger separately.
He points out that the detachable magazines date from the Civil War and the semi-automatic power is a century old.