Challengers of state and local bans on assault weapons in Illinois asked Justice Amy Coney Barrett and the Supreme Court on Monday to block the bans, saying that courts are ignoring last year’s ruling that expanded Second Amendment rights.
The gun rights advocates are challenging both a city ordinance passed last year by Naperville, Illinois, that bans the sale of assault rifles, and an Illinois state law enacted this year prohibiting the sale and possession of assault weapons and magazines.
Both a federal district court and an appeals court declined the request from a gun rights group, an Illinois gun shop and its owner for a preliminary injunction.
Monday’s emergency application was submitted to Barrett, who oversee emergency appeals coming from that region of the country.
The challengers say the courts are ignoring last year’s Supreme Court ruling known as Bruen v New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, and a previous decision, known as Heller v. District of Columbia.
“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 new application said, while referencing the test the Supreme Court’s conservative majority laid out in its Bruen ruling last year. “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.”
A response to the request for Supreme Court intervention was requested by noon on May 8.
Since handing down the Bruen ruling last year, the Supreme Court so far has avoided jumping back into the fray around the Second Amendment disputes that have proliferated in the ruling’s wake.
In the Bruen opinion, 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.
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.
Most recently, the Supreme Court declined to intervene in an emergency dispute over a law in New York that places restrictions on carrying a concealed firearm, with the justices in January allowing the law to remain in effect while the legal challenges played out.
This story has been updated with additional developments.