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Sunday, May 19, 2024 | Back issues
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Court Revives Challenge to Assault Weapon Ban

(CN) - Three Illinois gun owners can continue fighting an assault weapons ban they claim is unconstitutional, the state Supreme Court ruled.

Matthew Wilson, Troy Edhlund and Joseph Messineo claim that Blair Holt Assault Weapons Ban in Cook County violates their Second Amendment right to bear arms.

The county enacted the ban on the sale or possession of "any assault weapon or large capacity magazine" in 2006.

Up until this month, their case has not met much success. Both a Cook County judge and the Illinois Court of Appeals said their case could not advance for failure to state a claim.

The Illinois Supreme Court took another view, after first rejecting claims that the ordinance is unconstitutionally vague.

"A person of ordinary intelligence would understand that [a disputed section of the law] includes the specific weapons listed and any imitations or reproductions of those weapons made by that manufacturer or another," Justice Mary Jane Theis wrote for the court. "When read together with the listed weapons, the provision is not vague."

The judges also disagreed that the ordinance violated gun owners' equal protection rights under the Constitution.

The Second Amendment claim fared better, despite citation of a 1994 study by the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives that described assault weapons as "mass produced mayhem," and the preferred weapons of drug dealers, gangs and mass murderers.

"With that said, neither can we say conclusively at this early stage of the litigation that assault weapons as defined in this ordinance categorically fall outside the scope of the rights protected by the Second Amendment," Theis wrote.

"The county has not had an opportunity to present evidence to justify the nexus between the ordinance and governmental interest it seeks to protect," she added.

Cook County and the gun proponents must further address the Second Amendment issue on remand, the court said.

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