The U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals Monday upheld a ban on so-called “assault weapons” and “high capacity magazines” in Highland Park, Illinois, ruling that the prohibition on these widely popular and commonly owned firearms and accessories is constitutional.
Lawyers for the plaintiff in the case, a gun owner named Arie Friedman who is backed by several gun rights organizations, including the National Rifle Association and the Illinois State Rifle Association, argued that the AR-15 is in common use (as it is the best selling rifle in America), which would suggest that it is protected under the Second Amendment.
However, two of the three judges on the panel dismissed the “common use” argument, stating that AR-15 as well as other semiautomatic rifles with detachable magazines may be subject to a ban.
“During Prohibition, the Thompson submachine gun (the ‘Tommy gun’) was all too common in Chicago, but that popularity didn’t give it a constitutional immunity from the federal prohibition enacted in 1934,” wrote Circuit Judge Frank H. Easterbrook for the majority opinion that included Judge Ann Claire Williams.
Friedman’s lawyers also argued that the AR-15 is rarely used in crimes, which the the two judges acknowledged but felt that it had other salubrious benefits for public safety.
“If it has no other effect, Highland Park’s ordinance may increase the public’s sense of safety,” wrote Easterbrook. “Mass shootings are rare, but they are highly salient, and people tend to overestimate the likelihood of salient events. If a ban on semi‐automatic guns and large‐capacity magazines reduces the perceived risk from a mass shooting, and makes the public feel safer as a result, that’s a substantial benefit.”
In his dissenting opinion, Judge Daniel Anthony Manion argued that the ban infringes on one’s individual right to keep and bear arms for self-defense.
“To be sure, assault rifles and large capacity magazines are dangerous. But their ability to project large amounts of force accurately is exactly why they are an attractive means of self-defense,” wrote Manion. While most persons do not require extraordinary means to defend their homes, the fact remains that some do. Ultimately, it is up to the lawful gun owner and not the government to decide these matters.”
While this particular battle is lost the war is far from over. The NRA and the ISRA will now decide on whether to appeal the case to the Supreme Court. Unfortunately, along with whether one’s right to self-defense extends beyond the home (the constitutionality of ‘may-issue’ concealed carry laws that require one to provide a “good and substantial reason to carry”) whether AR-15s and other black rifles are protected under the Second Amendment is something the high court has yet to rule on despite many cases being submitted for review in recent years. Until the justices of the Supreme Court rule on these important matters, we can expect more contradictory rulings from federal courts.
[H/T: Chris Eger, Guns.com]