Gun rights advocates are calling on Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett to block state and local bans on assault weapons in Illinois, citing a Supreme Court ruling last year that expanded Second Amendment rights.
The emergency application was submitted Monday by a gun rights group, an Illinois gun shop, and its owner, who are challenging both a city ordinance and a state law enacted this year that prohibit the sale and possession of assault weapons and magazines.
The challengers argue that the courts are ignoring the Supreme Court’s ruling in Bruen v. New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, and a previous decision, known as Heller v. District of Columbia.
In Bruen, Justice Clarence Thomas said that gun laws regulating conduct protected by the Second Amendment are constitutional only if they have a parallel to the firearm measures in place at the time of the Constitution’s framing.
“Since the Second Amendment presumptively protects Plaintiffs’ conduct, Respondents must justify the challenged laws by demonstrating that they are consistent with the Nation’s historical tradition of firearm regulation,” the application said. “But because the banned arms are commonly possessed by law–abiding citizens for lawful purposes, it is impossible for Respondents to carry their burden under Heller and Bruen. The reason for this is apparent from Heller and Bruen themselves – there is no historical analogue to such a ban.”
Gun rights advocates have pointed to the Bruen ruling as a major victory, while gun control advocates have criticized it as an overreach of the Second Amendment.
The ruling has led to several lower court decisions knocking down gun laws, while some restrictions have survived legal challenges. Some judges have expressed frustration with the difficulties in applying the high court’s historical test, while gun rights advocates have returned to the Supreme Court when they have felt the precedents were not being adequately followed by lower courts.
Gun rights groups are now hoping that Justice Barrett and the Supreme Court will intervene in this case, and the court has requested a response by noon on May 8.
It remains to be seen whether the Supreme Court will take up the case, and what the justices’ decision will be. But one thing is clear: the gun rights debate is far from over.