Illinois’ two-week-old ban on semi-automatic weapons bans “ubiquitous” firearms in “radical” defiance of the Second Amendment, a federal lawsuit filed by the National Rifle Association on Tuesday alleges.
The powerful NRA joined a parade of gun rights activists trying to overturn the newly introduced ban on dozens of automatic pistols and long guns, as well as large-capacity magazines or attachments.
Democratic Gov. JB Pritzker signed the law into law Jan. 10 in response to the shooting of seven people at the July 4 parade in the Chicago suburb of Highland Park, which also left 30 injured. He said he believes the law will stand up to court challenges over its constitutionality.
Two individual gun owners from Benton, nine miles northeast of St. Louis, are lead plaintiffs in the NRA lawsuit, the second to be filed in US District Court for the Southern District of Illinois. They are joined by two Southern Illinois gun dealers and rangers and a Connecticut-based professional shooting association.
The NRA pleading notes that the US Supreme Court’s landmark 2008 Heller decision rejects any restriction on “weapons in common use today” unless — another ruling from last summer — there is evidence for an “enduring American tradition” of confinement.
Illinois law “takes the radical step of banning nearly every modern semi-automatic rifle — 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 US circulation far exceed the 16 million Ford F-150 trucks, the nation’s best-selling vehicle, according to the lawsuit.
A similar constitutional challenge was filed in the Benton-based Southern District last week. It was submitted by gun owners and gun rights advocacy groups.
Other lawsuits filed in district courts in southern Illinois challenge the legislative process for approving the law.
Plaintiffs in all court cases are likely to turn to the southern Illinois courts because they are more attuned to Second Amendment rights. Guns are viewed far more favorably in central and southern Illinois, where there is a larger population of hunters and marksmen, than in northern metropolitan areas, particularly Chicago, which continues to struggle with deadly handgun violence.
The NRA-backed lawsuit also argues that the legal ban on high-capacity ammunition rounds — no more than 10 rounds for rifles and 15 for pistols — and a long list of attachments and other accessories is as problematic as the guns in question can be They don’t work without them, so the add-ons are constitutionally protected “firearms” by implication.
Nationally, Pritzker and allies refer to the weapons as “assault weapons.” The brief refers to the tradition of carrying arms and includes a glossary. It explains that the restricted semi-automatic weapons aren’t machine guns – each round’s ejection requires a separate trigger pull.
It indicates that detachable magazines date back to the Civil War and semi-automatic power supplies are a century old.