7th Circuit Upholds Highland Park’s ‘Assault Weapons’ Ban


On April 27 the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit ruled that a Highland Park, Illinois’ ordinance banning “assault weapons” and high capacity magazines is constitutional.

The suit was filed by Highland Park resident Arie Friedman, who “owned a banned rifle and several large‐ capacity magazines before the ordinance took effect, and he wants to own these items again.” Illinois State Rifle Association members who live in Highland Park also took part, asking that the enforcement of the ordinance be enjoined.

The Seventh Circuit’s decision explained the “assault weapons” ban thus:

The ordinance defines an assault weapon as any semi‐automatic gun that can accept a large‐capacity magazine and has one of five other features: a pistol grip without a stock (for semiautomatic pistols, the capacity to accept a magazine outside the pistol grip); a folding, telescoping, or thumbhole stock; a grip for the non‐trigger hand; a barrel shroud; or a muzzle brake or compensator. Some weapons, such as AR‐15s and AK‐47s, are prohibited by name.

The court referenced the Supreme Court’s decision in District of Columbia v Heller (2008):

Heller holds that a law banning the possession of hand‐ guns in the home (or making their use in the home infeasible) violates the individual right to keep and bear arms secured by the Second Amendment. But the Court added that this is not a “right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.” 554 U.S. at 626. It cautioned against interpreting the decision to cast doubt on “longstanding prohibitions”, including the “historical tradition of prohibiting the carrying of ‘dangerous and unusual weapons’”.

The court also referenced McDonald v Chicago (2010), indicating the Supreme Court recognized that the Second Amendment protects individual rights. But they maintain that the Supreme Court did not set forth the parameters of the amendment.

Because of this, they said, both Heller and McDonald did “not foreclose all possibility of experimentation” by state and/or local governments.

The Seventh Circuit then “affirmed” Highland Park’s “assault weapons” ban.

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