BREAKING: Illinois Supreme Court Upholds Semi-Auto Gun Ban

(AP Photo/Lolita Baldor)

In a win for the advocates of gun control, in a 4-3 decision, the Illinois Supreme Court has upheld that state’s “assault weapon” ban.

The Illinois Supreme Court has upheld the state’s ban on the sale or possession of the type of semiautomatic weapons used in hundreds of mass killings nationally.

In a 4-3 decision Friday, the high court found that the Protect Our Communities Act does not violate the federal Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection of the law nor the state constitution’s bar on special legislation.

The court also decreed that state Rep. Dan Caulkins, a Decatur Republican, and like-minded gun-owners who brought the lawsuit had earlier waived their claims that the law infringes on the Second Amendment to own firearms and could not raise it before the Supreme Court.

The Second Amendment claim is alive, however, in several federal lawsuits filed in southern Illinois, later consolidated and awaiting appeals court action.


Given the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent Bruen decision, it seems unlikely this law will stand once it moves beyond the Illinois Court.

…Democrats, who control all levers of the state’s legislative and executive branch, also have a 5-2 majority on the state Supreme Court.

Several other lawsuits against the ban filed in federal court were consolidated and are awaiting action in an appeals court. It’s possible the Illinois high court’s action would answer questions posed in the federal queries.

It’s revealing to take a look at the actual law, which is found in amendments to the state code here. The state of Illinois defines “assault weapons” as follows:

(A) A semiautomatic rifle that has the capacity to accept a detachable magazine or that may be readily modified to accept a detachable magazine, if the firearm has one or more of the following:
(i) a pistol grip or thumbhole stock;
(ii) any feature capable of functioning as a protruding grip that can be held by the non-trigger hand;
(iii) a folding, telescoping, thumbhole, or detachable stock, or a stock that is otherwise foldable or adjustable in a manner that operates to reduce the length, size, or any other dimension, or otherwise enhances the concealability of, the weapon;
(iv) a flash suppressor;
(v) a grenade launcher;
(vi) a shroud attached to the barrel or that partially or completely encircles the barrel, allowing the bearer to hold the firearm with the non-trigger hand without being burned, but excluding a slide that encloses the barrel.


There are additional sections for handguns and an extensive list of specifically banned firearms. It’s rather surprising that this law, unlike the Federal 1994 “Assault Weapon” ban, did not specifically include bayonet lugs as a banned feature. That seems a serious oversight, what with the many incidents of bayonet charges by criminal gangs.

Note that none of these features have any effect on the power or lethality of a firearm. One can assemble a semi-auto rifle firing the exact same cartridge at the same power level as a banned weapon under this law, with a full-length traditional stock, no protruding grip, no flash suppressor, grenade launcher or shroud – in fact, the famous old M1 Garand rifle would appear to still be legal as it meets the criteria above and is not called out specifically. That rifle fires the .30-06 round that is an order of magnitude more powerful than the 5.56mm AR-15 cartridge or the 7.62×39 round used by AK-pattern rifles. Granted the M1 is a full-length, heavy rifle, and would be a poor choice for a would-be criminal; but then, rifles are used in a pretty low percentage of crimes as it is. The best argument one could make is that some of these features, like a folding stock, can “enhance concealibility,” which seems like a stretch. This law, like most “assault weapons” laws, is purely cosmetic, will achieve nothing, and when it achieves nothing, the advocates of gun control will just call for more bans, more restrictions, more infringements.


Still, there may be a light at the end of this tunnel. In the light of the Bruen decision and the fact that more Americans than ever are choosing to exercise their rights under the Second Amendment, the future of laws like this (despite this setback) is uncertain. The Illinois law, like so many “assault weapons” laws, is unconscionably vague, and to anyone who actually knows anything about firearms, nonsensical. It will be revealing to see what fate it faces in a higher court – presumably one that has read the Bruen decision.

RedState will continue to monitor this case as it unfolds and keep you informed.


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