Illinois assault weapons ban goes to 7th Circuit Court of Appeals

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Thursday, June 29, 2023
Illinois assault weapons ban goes to federal court
Gun control was on the docket in a federal courtroom in Chicago Thursday.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Gun control was on the docket in a federal courtroom in Chicago Thursday.

Illinois assault weapons ban went before the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. The popularity of the weapons the law proposes to ban could play a crucial role in the decision.

RELATED: US Supreme Court keeps Illinois assault weapons ban in place

Assault-style rifles like the popular AR-15 remain hanging on gun store walls while the fate of the state ban hangs in the balance.

Thursday a three-member panel hear arguments from attorneys involved in six consolidated lawsuits challenging the ban. Deputy Solicitor General Sarah Hunger argued for the state and said of the AR-15, "These are not in common use for self-defense." They are instead, she said, "offensive and militaristic."

Supporters of the state's assault weapons ban, including a survivor of the Highland Park parade shooting, rallied outside the courthouse.

READ MORE: Why semi-automatic rifles can cause so much damage

"Gun violence and mass shootings affect entire communities," said Ashbey Beasley, Highland Park shooting survivor.

Erin murphy, representing many gun groups, argued, "Our history and tradition is one of protecting weapons that are in common use today."

RELATED: McHenry case against assault weapons ban transferred to federal court

Americans own an estimated 24 million AR-15s.

In response, Judge Diane Wood noted, "It's unusual to have a popularity contest determine what is constitutional."

"It ought not to be just a popularity contest in time, right," said Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul.

But plaintiffs, including the owner of Naperville's Law Weapons and Supply store, said the ban was about penalizing many law abiding gun owners for the heinous crimes of a few, and this fight is far from over.

"It's illegal, and it's hurting us, you know, and I'm tired and we're gonna fight 'til the end," said Robert Bevis, owner of Law Weapons and Supply. "Right now, we believe, we're confident we're gonna win here at the appellate court, and if we don't we're gonna take it to the Supreme Court."

What is unclear at this point is how soon the Court of Appeals will issue a ruling. Judge Easterbook said this is an extremely difficult problem and the court was going to take it under advisement.