Illinois Gun Owners Revive Challenge to Assault-Weapon Ban

CHICAGO (CN) – Cook County gun owners refiled their decade-old Second Amendment challenge to the county’s assault-weapon ban in a case that went all the way to the Illinois Supreme Court and back.

In 2006, Cook County adopted a ban on assault weapons, defining them as any semi-automatic rifle or pistol that can accept a large capacity magazine and either a pistol grip, a barrel shroud, a protruding non-trigger hand grip, a folding stock, or a muzzle brake.

The ordinance lists over 20 guns that qualify as an assault weapon under the law.

It provides that any Cook County resident who owns such a weapon must remove it from county limits, modify it to comply with the law, or surrender it to the sheriff for destruction.

On Friday, two Cook County residents, Matthew D. Wilson and Troy Edhlund, refiled their challenge to the 11-year-old law. A state judge rejected their original claims, filed in 2007, but the Illinois Supreme Court remanded the case in 2012, ruling that dismissal was premature based on the limited record.

Both Wilson and Edhlund describe themselves as men “of ordinary intelligence,” who, after reading the ordinance, “must guess whether his firearms are ‘assault weapons’ within the vague language of the amended ordinance’s definitions.”

The men voluntarily dismissed their first case last year, about a week before a trial date was to be set. This move allowed them to refile within one year with all prior discovery intact.

“Unless relief is granted herein, plaintiffs will incur irreparable harm in that despite their aforesaid legal possession of firearms and magazines, and without any intent on their part to engage in any illegal activity they will be subject to arrest, prosecution and imprisonment, and be caused to expend great sums of money for their defense and face imprisonment and fine,” the new complaint states.

The case faces an uphill battle in court.

In 2015, the Seventh Circuit upheld a ban on assault weapons passed by the suburb of Highland Park, Ill., a ruling tacitly affirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court when it declined to review the case.

And in February, the en banc Fourth Circuit upheld Maryland’s statewide ban on assault-style weapons.

Wilson and Edhlund are represented by David G. Sigale in Glen Ellyn, Ill.

A representative for Cook County could not be reached for comment Friday.

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