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Illinois Supreme Court Upholds Ban on ‘Assault Weapons’ and ‘Large Capacity Magazines’

Illinois Supreme Court Upholds Ban on ‘Assault Weapons’ and ‘Large Capacity Magazines’

The court did not address the Second Amendment implications of the law because the plaintiffs’ waived this claim at trial.

In a 4–3 decision, the Supreme Court of Illinois upheld the state’s ban on “assault weapons” and “large capacity magazines.” The plaintiffs argued the Protect Illinois Communities Act (PICA) violated the Illinois constitution by denying them equal protection of the law and because of procedural deficiencies in PICA’s enactment.

“I am pleased that the Illinois Supreme Court has upheld the constitutionality of the Protect Illinois Communities Act,” stated Illinois Governor JB Pritzker in a press release. “This is a commonsense gun reform law to keep mass-killing machines off of our streets and out of our schools, malls, parks, and places of worship.”

Plaintiffs made two equal protection claims challenging exemptions from PICA

The plaintiffs’ equal protection claims stem from two types of exemptions in PICA: the law enforcement exemption and the “grandfather” exemption for current owners. Plaintiffs qualified for neither exemption, which they argued denied them the equal protection of the law.

The law enforcement exemption allowed current law enforcement officers, who must undergo firearms training, to possess assault weapons, including when off duty. The exemption also applied to retired law enforcement officers who had served for at least ten years and “maintain[ed], at their expense, training on the standards for qualification in firearms for active law enforcement officers.”

The plaintiffs argued PICA’s law enforcement exemption denied them equal protection because no meaningful distinction between the plaintiffs and law enforcement, all of whom possessed an Illinois firearm owners identification (FOID) card.

The court rejected this argument because obtaining a FOID card required no firearms training, and the plaintiffs had no law enforcement duties:

A FOID card holder does not have a duty to maintain public order; to make arrests for offenses; or to prevent, detect, investigate, prosecute, or incarcerate a person for a violation of law. By contrast, each of the seven categories of trained professionals must undergo specialized firearms training pertaining to their employment to maintain their exempt status under the Act. This training supports the presumption that they exercise greater responsibility in the safe handling and storage of firearms.

PICA’s grandfather exemption allowed individuals possessing an assault weapon or large capacity magazine before PICA’s enactment to continue possession lawfully. The exemption also provided that “[t]hose who inherit a lawfully owned assault weapon may retain it.”

The plaintiffs argued that because they wished to possess assault weapons and large capacity magazines after PICA’s enactment, an exemption for individuals in possession before PICA’s enactment constituted preferential treatment for grandfathered individuals.

The court rejected this equal protection argument because the plaintiffs and grandfathered individuals were not “similarly situated.” Grandfathered individuals had a “reliance interest” in keeping their assault weapons and large capacity magazine, an interest plaintiffs lacked.

Plaintiffs waived their Second Amendment and procedural deficiency claims

The court declined to address PICA’s Second Amendment implications because the “plaintiffs expressly waived in the circuit court any independent claim that the restrictions impermissibly infringe the second amendment.” Because of the waiver, the court “express[ed] no opinion on the potential viability of plaintiffs’ waived claim concerning the second amendment.”

Neither of the dissenting opinions challenged this finding or argued the court should have considered PICA’s Second Amendment implications.

The court also declined to address the plaintiffs’ procedural deficiency claim. The plaintiffs argued the legislature enacted PICA in violation of the Illinois constitution, which requires three readings of a bill on three different days.

At the trial court, the plaintiffs prevailed on their equal protection claim but not their procedural deficiency claim. The state appealed its loss on the equal protection claim, but the plaintiffs did not cross-appeal their loss on the procedural deficiency claim.

Because the plaintiffs failed to cross-appeal their loss, the court found it lacked jurisdiction to review the claim on appeal: “plaintiffs’ failure to cross-appeal is a jurisdictional bar to renewing their three-readings claim.”

One justice, in a dissent, criticized the majority’s reasoning, noting, “a reviewing court can uphold the decision of the circuit court on any grounds which are called for by the record.”


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Capitalist-Dad | August 18, 2023 at 9:47 am

The grandfather clause in this unconstitutional law is designed to avoid the PR disaster of Brownshirts with badges kicking down doors to confiscate rifles. Thanks to Chicago and surrounding counties Illinois is a corrupt blue cesspool. The leftist masterminds bury gang violence behind the euphemism “gun violence,” release dangerous criminals under the Orwellian named Safe-T Act, and strip normal citizens of 2nd Amendment rights with the pea-brained lie that this is the ONLY way to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and madmen. Nothing but lies, of course, but Democrat masterminds have security guards and live in protected high-rises or gated communities.

An assault weapons ban in the murder capital of the US? At the very least an interesting experiment

    Edward in reply to SeymourButz. | August 19, 2023 at 3:28 pm

    Nation wide long arms generally show up in the annual Bureau homicide statistics as involved in fewer homicides than “Personal Weapons (hands, elbows, feet, etc.)”, That would be both rifles and shotguns, Taken as a singular group (i.e. only rifles and only shotguns) the long arm involved homicides have been fewer than personal weapons for at least a couple of decades or more. Handguns are generally the “go to” homicide weapon, even in Chicago.

If y’all continue to reside in one of these deep blue States which are rapidly becoming totalitarian in fact v in theory you should consider getting out. A purple State might be salvageable but where a one party regime has been created such as Illinois or CA you are spitting against the wind. IMO, by remaining you are implicitly endorsing the regime.

Your taxes directly support the regime; property, excise, sales, income. Your contribution to the local economy results in indirect support as the businesses you patronize pay their taxes. Some of these businesses also provide political contributions to the campaigns of the regime politicians, whether by ideological agreement or simply out of self preservation, in either case it happens.

Remaining in that blue State also directly impacts the National political calculus b/c you are counted in their census numbers and boost the number of Congressional Districts that blue State receives at apportionment. Do us all a favor and move to a Purple or Red State, if not for the rest us, then do it for yourself and your family’s future in terms of safety and freedom.

    alaskabob in reply to CommoChief. | August 18, 2023 at 11:42 am

    Borrowing from H.G. Wells…. we need to rename the state… “Elois-nois”. The Morlochs definitely control the state. Just waiting for the courts to confirm the legality of the Nuremberg Laws also.

If you move- don’t bring what you left.

    scooterjay in reply to tmm. | August 18, 2023 at 11:06 am

    We will soon be a collection of city-states in perpetual war.

      Our side’s policy of “go along to get along” was working until the leftists decided to push to the limit on each and every issue.

      At this point, fighting back is self-defense. It’s up to the other side to stop the assault on our rights if they wish to live besides us in peace.

“The court did not address the Second Amendment implications of the law because the plaintiffs’ waived this claim at trial.”

Now I wouldn’t expect the judges in any lefty state (and IL is probably second to none on this score) to supply arguments that might favor a party who might wish to control/contain/restrict government over-reach (you know, the purpose of any constitution), but how could this issue, i.e., Bruen, be ignored.

    henrybowman in reply to fscarn. | August 18, 2023 at 2:31 pm

    One wonders why they wasted the money to file a lawsuit.

    Milhouse in reply to fscarn. | August 19, 2023 at 11:48 am

    The original case was surely argued before Bruen, so the plaintiffs couldn’t rely on it so they didn’t make a 2A argument.

    Once Bruen came along they tried to raise it and got knocked back because you can’t raise brand new arguments on appeal.

Let it go quickly to the Supreme Court. We’ll end this nonsense once and for all!

    The Gentle Grizzly in reply to richjb. | August 18, 2023 at 11:01 am

    Actually… no we won’t. Various states, counties, or municipalities will still flout the court and continue with this nonsense.

    And the boys in blue will be only too happy to confiscate what you have, especially if they are collector-grade or have some other market value. Those will never make it to the evidence locker.

    henrybowman in reply to richjb. | August 18, 2023 at 2:32 pm

    Not if they waived the 2A right out of the gate. I’d love to understand that particular 9-dimensional chess.

    Milhouse in reply to richjb. | August 19, 2023 at 11:48 am

    I don’t think it can go to the Supreme Court. It’s a case about state law.

      Edward in reply to Milhouse. | August 19, 2023 at 3:35 pm

      I could be mistaken, but with potential for denial of Constitutional rights (2d and 14th for starters), IIRC it had to go to the State Supremes before it can head to the Federal courts.

If there’s anyone surprised by this, please speak up.
All in all, I keep wondering just when the guarantee of a republican form of gov’t kicks in.

(Of course, you would need to still have a republican form of gov’t at the federal level for intervention to be successful….)

    Milhouse in reply to GWB. | August 19, 2023 at 11:49 am

    What’s a republican form of government got to do with this? A republican form of government doesn’t guarantee any of the Bill of Rights.

Another lame law by liberals who think this will stop anything to do with killing by magazine-fed weapons. I just watched a YouTube video of a guy using two 15-round mags in a Glock and three 10-round mags to show the total time required to shoot 30-rounds. It was 9.2 seconds with the two 15-round mags and 11.2 with the three 10-round mags. So these morons pass a law that will add 2 seconds to a 30-round spree of shooting. Do any of them ever bother to research any of their stupid laws?

    alaskabob in reply to inspectorudy. | August 18, 2023 at 11:38 am

    Intelligence is not required…. in fact…. it is avoided when passing these laws. Another reminded of the lame brained idea from Chief Justice Roberts about judges being “fair” or whatever. These judges are fellow travelers…. they may not be in first class and possibly in steerage but they are on the same voyage to Marxist paradise.

    Hey, man! That 2 seconds will allow someone to attack the shooter while unarmed (or maybe with a spoon from the food court) and take their gun away! Haven’t you seen any action movies?

      CommoChief in reply to GWB. | August 18, 2023 at 1:21 pm

      In all seriousness if someone need to fire off 30 rounds from a side arm they should reconsider their choices in life, namely:
      1. Where the Heck did you go that it became necessary to fire off 30 rounds?
      2. Why the Heck didn’t you bring a long gun?
      3. Why didn’t you bring more shooters with you?

      Have whatever firearm you want, even a Glock, with as large a capacity mag as you can find but maybe keep in mind the best way to survive a gun fight is not to put yourself into a situation where a gun fight is likely to pop off in the first place. Or not and deal with the error if you can.

        Honestly, I don’t carry a 30-round magazine in my pistol. Because that would be… awkward. If I have a 30-round mag, I’ve got my rifle(s).* I want the ability to have a 15rd mag, though, in my pistol. When you find you need all those rounds (and a backup mag, because sometimes things happen) it will be a surprise. Better to have it and only need the first 3 off the top, then to need it and find you only have 3. And I can envision the possibility of needing more than 10 given how things deteriorate and can catch you unawares.

        (* I wonder if a 30rd mag could be engineered for a Lee Enfield .303 British? If you have a really beefy shoulder it might be fun to find out.)

          CommoChief in reply to GWB. | August 18, 2023 at 5:20 pm

          I was referring to needing a mag change but either way if you must expend 30 rounds from a sidearm you are in the wrong place with the wrong gun and without sufficient assistance. For sure it is better to have and not need but way, way better to avoid that encounter entirely if possible.

          Edward in reply to GWB. | August 19, 2023 at 3:40 pm

          As the old story goes, the purpose of a handgun is to fight your way to your rifle. If the need for the rifle ends before you get there, so much the better.

        Said another way:
        Sometimes trouble comes to you, and not the other way around.

        gospace in reply to CommoChief. | August 18, 2023 at 6:00 pm

        15 rounds fired by a police officer before hitting the suspect.

        You don’t know how many rounds you’re going to need until after you’re done and you count them up. Better to have 10 or 20 too many then one too few.

          alaskabob in reply to gospace. | August 18, 2023 at 9:16 pm

          Average is one out of four in close range. In some gunfights… no one hit anyone. The best average came from the NYPD special weapons guys swiss-cheesing an immigrant. who was showing them his wallet. 50 some hits on target in the hallway. Oops… gee … sorry about that…. In super stress everything goes to pot unless fully trained. Oh… how did you like the IRS live fire training in Vegas this week where one IRS agent offed another during training? Live fire and live targets.. better them than us… although we come later.

          CommoChief in reply to gospace. | August 19, 2023 at 8:05 am

          Again guys have and carry what you feel is necessary. However, if you are going to be concerned about actually needing to fire off 30 rounds from a sidearm when you choose to go to an area, IMO, you need to either:
          1. Reevaluate whether must to go there
          2. If you must go then:
          A. bring a long gun with greater accuracy, standoff range and larger capacity magazines
          B. bring more shooters armed the same way

          Finally don’t get cocky b/c you have high capacity mags and allow yourself to be drawn into a bad situation. Avoiding conflict if it is at all possible is prudent.

    DaveGinOly in reply to inspectorudy. | August 18, 2023 at 2:01 pm

    As someone observed some years ago on the 10-round magazine limit, “Do not the first ten rounds hurt?”
    The limit is arbitrary, and that should be sufficient to defeat it. If the idea is to make firearms less dangerous, then why not a 5 or 3 round limit? Why not a single round?
    Making firearms less dangerous, does, in fact, violate our right to arms. Firearms have utility precisely because they are dangerous. Making them less dangerous reduces their utility (for the purposes for which we have a right to them). Therefore, any regulation of arms that makes them less dangerous is a violation of the right to arms. We have a right not to just any arms, but to those arms that are the most efficacious and effective for whatever work to which we decide to put them. Because they are meant to help us protect our other rights, making them less dangerous reduces our ability to protect those right, damaging those rights as well.

      Firearms have utility precisely because they are dangerous.
      As long as “dangerous” applies to the person on the other end of the muzzle from the operator.

        alaskabob in reply to GWB. | August 18, 2023 at 9:16 pm

        Oh… that might hurt the “bad guy”…. we can’t have any of that… he votes for us…/s

    henrybowman in reply to inspectorudy. | August 18, 2023 at 2:34 pm

    Nah, they don’t actually really care about any of that.
    What they care about is to have ONE gun ban declared constitutional.
    Once they do that, they’ve broken the 2A. The rest will fall.

    Ironclaw in reply to inspectorudy. | August 18, 2023 at 3:29 pm

    They don’t think it’ll stop anything other than American citizens standing up for their rights

LibraryGryffon | August 18, 2023 at 12:07 pm

Have they ever defined an “assault weapon”? Or is it the “I know it when I see it” standard?

Pritzker is also supporting a law that would criminalize acts and behavior of people protesting at abortion clinics–I think that unconstitutional law was written by our own Attorney General–Illinois is a cesspool, and if I didn’t have elderly parents here, I’d move in a heart beat

Richard Aubrey | August 18, 2023 at 4:37 pm

I’ve never seen the expression on the face of a vampire confronted by a large silver crucifix. But I have seen the expression on the face of a gun control advocate asked for the plan for disarming criminals.

At the rate people are fleeing Illinois, Fat Boy Pritzker’s gun law will be irrelevant as there’ll be no one left to enforce it on. My part of north central Indiana is getting swamped with Illinois refugees–I’m definitely not exaggerating.

Guessing 4 of them never read or understood the Constitution

Having shot a number of times next to LEOs doing quals, I’m amused at the presumption of their superiority with firearms.

There is serious legal deficiency and judicial malpractice in allowing language in legislation, or in judicial opinions, that imputes motive, by false attribute or characterization. “Assault weapon” is the most egregious example. Everyone agrees that an AR-15 is a weapon, Everyone agrees that an AR-15 is a firearm. Everyone agrees that an AR-15 is a rifle. It is therefore legally correct and sufficient to characterize the AR-15 as such. “Assault” is boilerplate. Otherwise I can use a tablespoon to scoop your eye out with an “assault spoon”, or hang you with an “assault rope”. Likewise, a law which should correctly be referred to as “a bill to restrict puberty blocking drugs” could be called “a bill to restrict pedophilia drugs”. It’s dangerous precedent.

I’m curious about the plaintiff’s legal strategy. Are they now going to bring a 2nd Amendment objection to PICA, and get it before SCOTUS in the hope that it will declare the IL S Ct’s interpretation of the IL Constitution unenforceable because it is inconsistent with the U.S. 2nd Amendment?

    markm in reply to Q. | August 19, 2023 at 10:30 am

    Was the plaintiff a false-flag operation by gun banners? I can’t see any other reason for waiving the blatant 2nd Amendment violation and going to court on a weak and unprecedented claim.

      Milhouse in reply to markm. | August 19, 2023 at 11:53 am

      I think it was filed before Bruen, so the 2A was not a winning argument. Now it is, so the case needs to be refiled on that ground.