Anti-gunners announce rally in defense of Illinois' gun ban

(AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

As the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals considers the constitutionality of Illinois’ new ban on the sale of so-called assault weapons and large capacity magazines, the gun prohibition lobby is appealing to the court of public opinion.

March for Our Lives is planning on holding a rally in support of the new gun law outside the federal courthouse on Thursday morning as attorneys for the state and gun owners will be squaring off inside, and organizers are sparing no effort to scare their supporters about what could happen if the law is struck down in the hopes of driving up turnout.

Pro-gun groups and their lawyers are asking the 7th Circuit to strike down the Protect Illinois Communities Act. The bill bans not only assault rifles, but also large-capacity magazines, switches, and the deadliest forms of semi-automatic pistols.

The deadliest form of pistols? Give me a break. Every firearm is a deadly weapon, and the vast majority of violent crimes in Chicago and other Illinois cities that involve the use of a firearm are committed by individuals possessing handguns, not modern sporting rifles. This isn’t about banning especially dangerous or unusual weapons. It’s about banning a class of firearms that the Supreme Court has so far not weighed in on, unlike the city of Chicago’s handgun ban that was struck down in the McDonald decision in 2010.

This case is the first challenge to Illinois’ state assault weapons ban to hit the federal appellate court, and an adverse ruling would have devastating consequences for both our state and nationwide.

Decisions from federal appellate courts hold substantial authority. If the 7th Circuit strikes down this law, it could fundamentally hamper Illinois’ ability to regulate and defend against these weapons and modifiers in the future.

But it will not just harm our state. An adverse decision could provide ammunition to every pro-assault weapons group in the country, who could and would weaponize this decision against similar assault weapons bans in other states. Challenges to state assault weapons bans would become much likelier to succeed. States that do not have assault weapons bans already could think twice about trying to pass their own. And it could help the NRA and pro-gun federal politicians stymie every effort for a federal assault weapons ban.

Should pro-gun groups win this case, it would be so much harder for Illinois and every other state to regulate the weapons of war and protect our communities and families from gun violence.

Well, they’re at least mostly correct about the political and legal implications of the Seventh Circuit striking down Illinois’ gun and magazine ban, even if they’re entirely off-base when it comes to the impact on public safety, which would be nil. We’re not talking about “weapons of war” here, but some of the most commonly-sold firearms in the country; lawfully possessed by tens of millions of Americans and yet rarely used in crimes. According to the FBI, more homicides are committed with fists and feet than with rifles of any kind; 600 homicides committed with “personal weapons” like hands, fists, and feet in 2019, compared to 364 homicides in which a rifle was the weapon of choice.

Bans simply don’t make us safer. Chicago had more than 900 homicides per year back in the early 1990s when its handgun ban was in full effect; a rate far higher than what we saw even as crime spiked in the city during the civil unrest, riots, and court closures during the pandemic in 2020. If banning the most commonly-used firearm in crime didn’t have any impact on the city’s violent crime rate, then why would anyone think that banning guns that aren’t used in a lot of crime make a significant impact?

I doubt that the biggest proponents of Illinois’ ban really care one way or the other if the prohibition on so-called assault weapons and large capacity magazines actually reduces “gun violence”. Their real goal is to reduce gun ownership, and this is merely another step in that direction. This rally in support of the state’s latest infringement on the Second Amendment rights of Illinois residents is fundamentally an exercise in anti-gun bigotry on the part of an anti-civil rights movement; one that’s on the wrong side of both history and our Bill of Rights.