The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday declined to put on hold a new Illinois law that bans high-power semiautomatic weapons like the one used in the mass killing of seven people at a 2022 Fourth of July parade in Highland Park.
The justices did not comment in refusing an emergency appeal from a gun rights group and others.
The law prohibits the possession, manufacture or sale of semiautomatic rifles and high-capacity magazines.
The Supreme Court’s decision on Thursday means the law will continue to stay in effect, but it still faces additional legal challenges, including more opportunity for the nation’s highest court to intervene.
The Illinois Supreme Court separately upheld the law on a 4-3 decision in August.
Last month, a three-judge panel of the 7th District U.S. Court of Appeals voted 2-1 in favor of the law, refusing a request by gun rights groups to block it.
“Gun rights groups continue to try to block the new law, even after repeated failures. And they continue to get nowhere,” Gun Violence Prevention PAC board member John Schmidt said. “No amount of flailing around by losing lawyers alters the basic fact that sale in Illinois of these destructive weapons continues to be blocked completely.”
At least eight other states and the District of Columbia have some sort of prohibition on semiautomatic weapons, and several cases challenging those laws are making their way through the federal courts, relying at least in part on the Supreme Court’s decision in 2022 that expanded gun rights.
The Protect Illinois Communities Act bans dozens of specific brands or types of rifles and handguns, including the popular AR-15, .50-caliber guns, attachments and rapid-firing devices. No rifle will be allowed to accommodate more than 10 rounds, with a 15-round limit for handguns.
Those who already owned qualifying guns prior to Gov. J.B. Pritzker signing the law last January can keep them, but they are required to file an affidavit with the Illinois State Police by Jan. 1.
On Tuesday, Southern District of Illinois Federal Judge Stephen McGlynn heard arguments on a bid to delay that registration deadline.
Pritzker said he remained confident that the registration requirement will take effect in 2024 and that it “will save lives across the state.”
But he also indicated his expectation for additional court action, well into 2024.
“I’m always concerned that someone with a political agenda will make a decision that is inappropriate,” Pritzker said Tuesday. “In this circumstance, I also know that this thing is working its way through the courts and likely will end up at the Supreme Court, so we’ll have to wait for the final decision there. But I do believe that this law will go into effect on Jan. 1 and that it will save lives across the state.”
State Rep. Dan Caulkins, R-Decatur, who is among the gun owners suing to overturn the law and who asked for the Supreme Court’s intervention, has remained steadfast that he’ll prevail.
“I am confident this law will be overturned at some point,” he said in a Tuesday statement announcing his request that justices grant an emergency injunction.
Caulkins argued it’s common sense to hold off on enforcing the law until the legal system has proper time to consider it.
“Not only is this law a violation of our rights under the Constitution, it also is a law that fails to keep anyone safe. Gun control doesn’t control criminals, just everyone else,” Caulkins said in the earlier statement. “The sooner anti-2nd Amendment organizations and lawmakers understand and accept this, the sooner we can move forward and start coming up with approaches that actually do some good in reducing violent crime and crime in general."
A spokesman for Caulkins did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Thursday’s denial.
The Associated Press contributed.
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