Illinois Supreme Court finds assault weapons ban constitutional

The state Supreme Court upheld the legislation banning assault weapons in Illinois Friday.

The court issued an opinion on a lawsuit filed by Republican State Representative Dan Caulkins with a 4-3 majority.

Illinois gun store owners said the ban was "blatantly unconstitutional." The high court found that the Protect Our Communities Act does not violate the federal Constitution's guarantee of equal protection of the law nor the state constitution's bar on special legislation.

Since Gov. Pritzker signed the bill in January, lawsuits have been filed claiming the legislation infringed on Second Amendment rights and sheriffs publicly stated they would not uphold the law.

The Second Amendment claim is alive, however, in several federal lawsuits filed in southern Illinois, later consolidated and awaiting appeals court action.

The law banned the sale of assault weapons in Illinois and caps the purchase of magazines at 10 rounds for long guns and 15 for handguns. It also makes rapid-fire devices, known as "switches," illegal because they turn firearms into fully automatic weapons.


Nine other states and the District of Columbia have gun bans similar to the one in Illinois, according to the gun control group Brady, which tracks the legislation.

California, Connecticut, Hawaii, New Jersey and New York also require registration of guns purchased prior to the law while four other states – Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts and Washington – do not.

Illinoisans who legally owned the now-barred guns and magazines ahead of the law’s enactment can continue to keep them. The guns, however, must be registered with law enforcement.

The Illinois legislation was driven largely by the killing of seven people at a 4th of July parade last year in the Chicago suburb of Highland Park. The shooter was armed with an AR-15 rifle and 30-round magazines.

Chief Justice Theis and Justices Neville Rochford and Cunningham concurred in the judgment and opinion. Justice Holder White dissented with the opinion, joined by Justices Overstreet and O’Brien.

Democrats, who control all levers of the state's legislative and executive branch, also have a 5-2 majority on the state Supreme Court.

Read the complete opinion here:

The Associated Press contributed to this report.