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Federal appeals court upholds Chicago ‘assault weapons’ ban

AR-15 rifle. (Michael Guio/Flickr)
September 02, 2019

A Thursday night decision has determined that an “assault weapons” ban throughout Chicago and the rest of Cook County, Ill., does not violate an individual’s right to bear arms.

A unanimous decision from the three-judge panel, including President Trump appointee Judge Amy Joan St. Eve, affirmed the “Blair Holt Assault Weapons Ban” passed by the Cook County Board of Commissioners, which allowed for a $10,000 fine and up to six months in prison for residents possessing a list of guns labeled ‘assault weapons,’ including those that can accept a detachable “high-capacity” magazine, the Associated Press reported.

In the decision handed down by the Seventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, judges determined the two Cook County residents “came forward with no reason — much less a compelling one,” to challenge the ban.

The same federal court of appeals issued a 2-1 ruling in 2015, reaffirming a similar gun law out of the Highland Park suburb of Chicago.

“Highland Park contends that the ordinance must be valid because weapons with large‐capacity magazines are ‘dangerous and unusual,'” the 2015 ruling reads.

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In the majority decision on the 2015 ruling, determined that the ban of certain guns is acceptable as residents could still obtain other types of guns. Further, the decision states there is not an additional risk of residents obtaining weapons banned in their locale by purchasing them outside their banned area.

“But data show that most criminals commit crimes close to home,” the decision reads. “Local crimes are most likely to be committed by local residents, who are less likely to have access to firearms.”

In his dissenting opinion on the 2015 case, Judge Daniel Manion wrote that an individual’s determination of what they need for their defense is  “a matter only that person can assess in full.”

Manion argued 2015 decision was at odds with the Supreme Court ruling in the 2008 case of District of Columbia v. Heller. Manion argued at the time, that the higher court’s decision conferred the right on individuals to own firearms in “common use” and that his fellow judges had in fact upheld a ban on such types of firearms.

The two Cook County residents in the Thursday ruling may try an appeal before a larger seating of judges on the Seventh Circuit Court.

A similar case out of California is contesting the state’s “high-capacity” magazine ban. In early April, Judge Roger Benitez of the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals barred the sale of “high capacity” magazines following his own ruling at the end of March, calling the ban unconstitutional.