Illinois Town's Assault Weapon Ban Upheld By Court

The city of Deerfield, Illinois wanted their own assault weapon ban, one far in excess of anything the state was doing at the time. It was a useless bit of local legislation that would be virtually impossible to actually enforce and may well push citizens to move outside the city limits, but they passed it.

Then a permanent injunction was issued which put an end to the stupidity, for a little while at least.

Unfortunately, now a court has changed everything.

eerfield could soon begin enforcing its ban on certain semi-automatic long guns following an opinion released last week by a state appeals court.

A divided three-judge panel of the Illinois 2nd District Appeals Court Friday lifted permanent injunctions issued last year by a Lake County judge, which had forbidden village officials from enforcing any part of the Assault Weapons Ban Ordinance trustees passed unanimously in April 2018.

The ruling found Deerfield had the power to regulate assault weapons at the time and sent the case back to Lake County circuit court for further proceedings. Lawsuits challenging Deerfield’s ban from two sets of plaintiffs — Daniel Easterday and the groups Illinois State Rifle Association, Second Amendment Foundation, as well as John Wombacher and the group Guns Save Life — were consolidated into a single appeal.

The challenges argued the ban was forbidden under the 2013 laws that created a new legislative framework for legal firearm ownership after a federal court in found Illinois’ previous gun laws were unconstitutional the year before.

Those new laws — the Concealed Carry Act and the Firearm Owners Identification Card Act, or FOID Card Act — allowed local governments to pass their own assault weapons regulations as long as they did so within 10 days of the Concealed Carry Act’s passage in July 2013. The law also specifically allowed for those regulations to be amended in the future.

Back in 2013, the Deerfield Village Board passed an ordinance defining assault weapons and mandating certain measures be taken when transporting or storing them, but stopping short of an outright ban.

Judge Kathryn Zenoff agreed with the village’s interpretation that lawmakers in Springfield had provided for a brief window for local governments to retain the power to regulate assault weapons — and the village had done so.

In other words, the judge argues that the ban is legal because it was an amended part of an existing law.

However, the problem I have here is that a ban isn’t some tweak in existing law. It’s not a simple adjustment to what’s already codified. It’s an entirely new regulation, which makes it a new law, at least in my mind.

Then again, I’m not an attorney, nor have I ever played one on TV. There may well be some legal fiction used to justify this kind of thing, something that makes sense to lawyers and a few others. I don’t know.

What I do know is that the initial injunction implies at least some judges view this the same way I do.

Undoubtedly, this will move up the legal food chain.

It looks like this story is far from over.

Nov 26, 2021 10:30 AM ET