Ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines likely constitutional, 7th Circuit says
“As we know from long experience with other fundamental rights, such as the right to free speech, the right peaceably to assemble, the right to vote and the right to free exercise of religion, even the most important personal freedoms have their limits,” wrote Judge Diane Wood. Image from Shutterstock.
A Chicago-based federal appeals court ruled Friday that Illinois and several municipalities may enforce bans on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines while challenges continue in the courts.
Ruling in several consolidated cases, the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals at Chicago held that there is a strong likelihood that the challenged laws will withstand a Second Amendment challenge.
The 7th Circuit issued the 2-1 decision after the Illinois Supreme Court ruled in August that the laws did not violate the state constitution’s equal protection clause and did not violate other Illinois requirements.
Judge Diane Wood, an appointee of former President Bill Clinton, wrote the majority opinion for the 7th Circuit panel.
“As we know from long experience with other fundamental rights, such as the right to free speech, the right peaceably to assemble, the right to vote and the right to free exercise of religion, even the most important personal freedoms have their limits,” Wood wrote.
“Government may punish a deliberately false fire alarm; it may condition free assembly on the issuance of a permit; it may require voters to present a valid identification card; and it may punish child abuse even if it is done in the name of religion,” Wood wrote. “The right enshrined in the Second Amendment is no different.”
Wood said assault weapons and high-capacity magazines are more like machine guns and military-grade weaponry, putting them on the side of the line that is outside the protections of the Second Amendment.
Wood noted a test adopted in the Supreme Court’s June 2022 decision New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc. v. Bruen. It considers whether a challenged gun regulation “is consistent with the nation’s historical tradition of firearm regulation.”
The historical tradition, Wood said, distinguishes between weapons and accessories designed for military or law-enforcement use and weapons designed for personal use.
Judge Michael Brennan, an appointee of President Donald Trump, dissented. He said the defendants “failed to meet their burden to show that their bans are part of the history and tradition of firearms regulation.”
The case is Bevis v. City of Naperville, Illinois.