The U.S. Supreme Court temporarily upheld an Illinois law aimed at banning certain rapid-fire assault weapons, according to reporting by the Los Angeles Times.
On May 17, the justices rejected an emergency appeal brought by gun rights groups (National Assn. for Gun Rights v. Naperville, Ill), in an unsigned order with no dissent. The groups were asking the justices to stop a local ordinance as well as the state ban from taking effect.
Although this ruling does not address the overall constitutional issue surrounding assault weapons, states like California, along with eight others who have assault weapons bans, may see this as a good sign.
That is because SCOTUS normally blocks new laws deemed unconstitutional, reported the Times.
“The history of firearms regulation establishes that governments enjoy the ability to regulate highly dangerous arms … [and] assault weapons and large-capacity magazines fall under this category,” said U.S. District Judge Virginia M. Kendall.
The judge’s comments addressed the suit by the gun rights group after the city of Naperville and the state of Illinois enacted new laws that ban the sale and ownership of assault weapons and high capacity magazines. Passage of the laws followed a mass shooting last year in Highland Park, Ill.
The judge agreed with the argument made by state lawyers that semiautomatic rifles “were developed and marketed as military-style weapons,” not “as a means of self-defense.”
The LA Times also reported that, since the 7th Circuit of Appeals in Chicago plans to entertain arguments in late June on this constitutional issue, SCOTUS may be taking a wait-and-see approach.
Historically, the Supreme Court has not made a direct ruling on whether the 2nd Amendment applies to AR-15-style rifles. It also has refused past 2nd Amendment challenges to other state and local laws involving AR-15-style rifles.
Gun rights advocates were pleased last year when the high court decided to strike down restrictive concealed gun-carrying laws in places like New York and other states.
In a 6-3 majority, Justice Clarence Thomas wrote that the upholding of restrictive gun laws can only stand if they are “consistent with the nation’s historical tradition of firearms regulation.”