NRA, lawyer who helped win U.S. Supreme Court case take on Illinois’ assault weapons ban

Two Second Amendment lawyers who helped win a landmark U.S. Supreme Court case striking down New York’s concealed carry law are now challenging the constitutionality of Illinois’ assault weapons ban with the help of the National Rifle Association.

Paul Clement, who successfully argued the New York case, is one of the plaintiffs’ attorneys in the latest federal lawsuit seeking to overturn Illinois’ two-week ban.

Clement is a former partner at Kirkland & Ellis in Washington, D.C., who served as United States Attorney General from 2004 to 2008 during the George W. Bush represented the government in the country’s highest court.

Clement and attorney Erin Murphy started their firm after Kirkland & Ellis in Chicago decided it would no longer handle cases involving the Second Amendment. Murphy, who was part of the New York case, is also working on the assault weapons ban in Illinois, which was filed Tuesday in the Southern District of Illinois.

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The plaintiffs in the new federal lawsuit are Sparta resident Caleb Barnett, Marion resident Brian Norman, Guns Guns & More in Benton, Pro Gun and Indoor Range in Benton and the National Sports Shooting Foundation, Inc.

Although the NRA is not listed as a plaintiff, a spokeswoman for the organization told the Sun-Times that it joined the National Shooting Sports Foundation in filing the suit, similar to the one filed by the New York Rifle and Pistol Association. Bruen, which was eventually taken to the US Supreme Court.

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In that case, the court in June 2022 struck down New York’s concealed carry gun law by a 6-3 majority, ruling that the law prevented law-abiding citizens from exercising their Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms for self-defense.

Although it’s the first case involving the NRA, Tuesday’s lawsuit is far from the first challenge to Illinois’ new gun ban, known as the Illinois Communities Protection Act. The Illinois State Rifle Association filed its federal lawsuit last week. And at least three lawsuits have been filed in lower state district courts.

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Governor J.B. Pritzker signed the measure on Jan. 10, immediately banning the sale of assault weapons in Illinois and limiting magazine purchases to 10 rounds for handguns and 15 for handguns. It also outlawed rapid-fire devices, known as “cavites,” because they turn a firearm into a fully automatic weapon. Those who already own prohibited weapons are allowed to keep them, but must register them with the Illinois State Police by Jan. 1.

Governor J.B. Pritzker signs assault weapons ban January 10 at the State Capitol in Springfield.

Governor J.B. Pritzker signs assault weapons ban January 10 at the State Capitol in Springfield.

File Tina Sfondeles/Chicago Sun-Times

A federal lawsuit filed Tuesday argues that the law violates the Second and Fourteenth Amendments. It also argues that the measure is unconstitutional because the types of weapons banned are commonly used by law-abiding citizens. It basically argues that the government cannot ban guns that are used in self-defense today, which is clearly the case in the Bruen decision.

“Almost no other state in the union has attempted such a drastic measure — and with good reason, as no less than the Supreme Court has recognized that semiautomatic rifles have been “traditionally widely accepted as legal.” .

“All of this undermines any attempt to argue that banning these ubiquitous weapons is consistent with a ‘historical tradition that limits the outer limits of the right to keep and bear arms,'” the lawsuit said, citing the Bruen case. .

The lawsuit states that semi-automatic rifles are the most commonly used self-defense weapons today and that “tens of millions of Americans own hundreds of millions of such weapons,” citing high-powered magazines.

The lawsuit claims the law bans hundreds of rifle models, including “all of the most common models in circulation.”

In 2013, assault weapons will be on display at Capitol City Firearms in Springfield.

In 2013, assault weapons will be on display at Capitol City Firearms in Springfield.

“None of this is consistent with the Second Amendment, which protects the right of law-abiding Americans to keep and bear arms that are in ‘common use’ for self-defense today,” the lawsuit states.

The lawsuit seeks a declaratory judgment declaring the law unconstitutional. It also seeks an order to stay enforcement of the law against the plaintiffs and their members.

The NRA said it also helped pay for the suit, along with the National Shooting Sports Foundation, an industry trade association.

Attorney General Kwame Raul and Illinois State Police Director Brendan Kelly are named as defendants in the case. The governor’s office and the attorney general’s office did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the lawsuit.

Pritzker has repeatedly said he is confident the law will pass constitutional muster, most recently in an interview with CBS News on Tuesday.

“We think we’re going to win, and we have the Constitution behind us and the constitutional scholars and experts who helped draft the legislation,” Pritzker said. “So I feel pretty good about the end result.”

A southern Illinois county judge last week blocked enforcement of an assault weapons ban against 865 gun owners and a downstate firearms store who filed a state court challenge to the law.

Contribute: John Seidel


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