(RightWing.org) – In early January, Democratic Governor JB Pritzer signed the Protect Illinois Communities Act (HB5855) into law, banning the purchase, sale, manufacture, and possession of assault-style weapons in the state. Naperville, a suburban city on the western edge of the Chicago metro area, passed a similar ordinance (Naperville Municipal Code Section 3-19-3) in mid-2022.
As one might expect, gun rights advocates quickly headed to the courts to block those weapons bans.
US Supreme Court to Allow Weapons Ban to Remain
A local Naperville gun store owner named Robert Bevis, Law Weapons, and the National Association for Gun Rights filed a civil complaint in the US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, asking the court to rule the new law and ordinance unconstitutional. They also sought a preliminary injunction and temporary restraining order to bar the Illinois state officials and the City of Naperville from enforcing their respective restrictions while their case worked its way through the court.
On February 17, District Judge Virginia Kendall issued a memorandum opinion and order declining the plaintiff’s request. The US Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit upheld the lower court’s ruling and declined a motion by the plaintiffs to issue a preliminary injunction and temporary restraining order pending the disposition of their motion for an en banc appeal. Then, on November 29, the plaintiffs filed a writ of injunction with Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett.
Justice Barrett oversees cases originating in the 7th Circuit and had the authority to grant the plaintiff’s request. However, on December 14, she referred their application to the SCOTUS’ full panel for review. The court issued a one-sentence order denying the application pending certiorari without further comment. The decision didn’t cite any dissents.
SCOTUS’ decision means the State of Illinois and Naperville officials can continue enforcing their respective bans on assault rifles while the case continues in the District Court. Illinois also banned ammunition magazines for those firearms.
In the Meantime, Violators Face Steep Punishments
The Naperville ordinance carries a maximum fine of $1,000 for a first offense and $2,500 for second and subsequent offenses committed within one year. Additionally, the officials can consider each day an individual violates the ordinance as a separate violation and assess a financial penalty for each infraction.
Similarly, any person violating the state’s ban commits a Class 3 felony for their first violation and a Class 2 for the second and subsequent offenses or the possession or delivery of two or more assault-style weapons.
Class 3 felonies carry a prison term ranging from two to five years, probation not to exceed 30 months, fines, and restitution. The term of imprisonment for Class 2 felonies ranges from three to seven years, and probation or conditional discharge is expanded to a maximum of four years.
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