EAST ST. LOUIS, Illinois — An Illinois District Court Judge in East St. Louis blocked the state’s new “assault weapons” ban. The decision came after Illinois successfully petitioned the court to combine four different lawsuits challenging the new law into a single case. The state claimed since the cases were all arguing against the ban, it would save the state money in litigation fees.
Many in the gun world thought the state pushed to combine the case because it would be easier to defeat a single case in front of a single judge than give the pro-gun side multiple attempts at knocking down the law. If that was the state’s strategy, it spectacularly backfired.
Protect Illinois Communities Act, or PICA, was enacted earlier this year. The constitutionally dubious law banned most semi-automatic rifles, including the AR-15, the most popular semi-automatic rifle in the country.
Current owners of AR-15s were grandfathered in but had to register their firearms with the state. The law also banned so-called “high capacity” magazines that held more than ten rounds. The sale or transfer of these magazines was banned.
Judge Stephen P. McGlynn, of the Southern District of Illinois and Trump appointee, heard the motions for a preliminary injunction. The judge ruled that the PICA was likely unconstitutional thanks to the Bruen decision and that the plaintiffs would likely succeed on the merits of the cases. The judge also stated that the Second Amendment is not for hunting but for the citizenry to defend itself against a tyrannical government.
“During the founding era, ‘[i]t was understood across the political spectrum that the right . . . might be necessary to oppose an oppressive military force if the constitutional order broke down.’ Therefore, although ‘most undoubtedly thought [the Second Amendment] even more important for self-defense and hunting’ the additional purpose of securing the ability of the citizenry to oppose an oppressive military, should the need arise, cannot be overlooked,” the judge wrote in his 29-page decision.
The judge also weighed into the controversy surrounding the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) rule on pistol stabilizing devices.
The ATF’s new rule makes most firearms equipped with pistol braces short-barreled rifles that are subject to the National Firearms Act of 1934 (NFA). Judge McGlynn claims that the Second Amendment protects pistol braces.
“PICA also interferes with the meaningful exercise of Second Amendment rights for one group of individuals — those with disabilities. To provide one example, consider arm braces for semi-automatic pistols. As noted above, PICA prohibits the use of an arm brace on any semi-automatic pistol with a detachable magazine without any caveat or exceptions. The Department of Justice has also attempted to regulate possession and registration of arm braces. As reason and the ATF final rule evidences, braces are needed by certain individuals with disabilities to operate a firearm. Thus, arm braces are an integral part of the meaningful exercise of Second Amendment rights for such individuals and can also be considered an ‘arm,’” the judge stated.
Two of the groups that brought a lawsuit were Gun Owners of America (GOA) and Gun Owners Foundation (GOF). The win came on the 40th anniversary of the founding of GOF. GOF Board member Sam Paredes celebrated the victory.
“We are excited about this ruling and thrilled to see such strong commentary from Judge McGlynn. Especially as GOF celebrates its 40th anniversary today, what a great present for us and the American people. We will continue to hammer the point home to anyone who hopes to infringe on our rights – fall in line, or we will make you.”
Illinois is expected to appeal the decision and ask for the preliminary injunction to be stayed.
About John Crump
John is a NRA instructor and a constitutional activist. John has written about firearms, interviewed people of all walks of life, and on the Constitution. John lives in Northern Virginia with his wife and sons and can be followed on Twitter at @crumpyss, or at www.crumpy.com.