(The Center Square) – About a third of Illinois’ state’s attorneys want to see the Illinois Supreme Court strike down the state’s gun and magazine ban.
The Macon County case from state Rep. Dan Caulkins, R-Decatur, challenges Illinois’ gun and magazine ban on the grounds it violates equal protections. The law doesn’t apply to police or others in the law enforcement and security industries.
After the county judge issued a final judgment against the law deeming it unconstitutional, the state appealed directly to the Illinois Supreme Court.
Madison County State’s Attorney Thomas Haine is leading the friend of the court brief in support of Caulkins with a bipartisan group of 33 state’s attorneys looking to overturn the law.
“It’s not a political issue from our perspective,” Haine told The Center Square. “We are attorneys. We are prosecutors. We took an oath to be objective about the law. From an objective legal standpoint there is just no basis to attempt to ban the kinds of firearms that are used by literally millions of Americans in their day to day lives for law abiding purposes.”
Haine said the law puts the state’s attorneys in a legal quagmire.
“I do not agree with some state’s attorneys that seek to sort of pick and choose which laws they want to enforce based on a policy preference, but here we have a sort of a legal conflict where we have a statute and we have a constitution and the constitution is the law of the land,” Haine said.
Among their arguments, certain firearms the law bans are in common use and are not “dangerous and unusual.” They also argue the state’s balancing of interest versus rights must be rejected, saying there is no historical tradition of banning guns and magazines.
In their filing, the state’s attorneys say “the Act is unconstitutional because it burdens core Second Amendment rights and is not the kind of regulation historically understood to be compatible with the right to ‘keep and bear arms.’”
They further argue since the law is unconstitutional, it “places Amici in a difficult ethical and legal quandary … To avoid this dilemma and in the interest of clarity for all, Amici encourage this Court to affirm the Circuit Court’s judgment and strike down the Act as an unlawful infringement of the fundamental rights of citizens outlined in the Constitutions of the state of Illinois and the United States.”
In a push for bans on certain firearms elsewhere, including nationally, gun control advocates like the Brady Campaign point to recent mass shootings like one Monday in Kentucky. Reports out of Louisville indicate an AR-15-style rifle was used in the shooting that killed four people and injured others.
“Since the federal assault weapons ban sunset in 2004, there have been 34 instances in which an assault weapon was used in a mass shooting,” the Brady Campaign said in a news release.
Haine said while every firearm related fatality is tragic, deaths by semi-automatic rifles pale in comparison to even deaths caused by hands and feet.
“There’s more homicides committed in the United States of America in 2019, with almost twice as many with hands and feet than with these assault rifles,” Haine said. “So these are not the kinds of rifles that are the choice of criminals, typically.”
The state’s attorneys from 33 of Illinois’ 102 counties are Brown, Calhoun, Carrol, Clark, Clinton, Edwards, Effingham, Gallatin, Hamilton, Hancock, Henderson, Henry, Jasper, Jefferson, Jersey, Jo Daviess, Johnson, Macon, Madison, Marion, Mercer, Monroe, Ogle, Perry, Pulaski, Randolph, Schuyler, Union, Vermillion, Warren, Washington, Wayne and White counties.
Since January 10, 2023, the State of Illinois bans the sale of firearms that have been defined as assault weapons, but allows the possession of any that are registered with the state police before January 1, 2024. The sale of rifle magazines that can hold more than 10 rounds or handgun magazines that can hold more than 15 rounds is prohibited.
The state-level case to be heard mid-May is separate from the federal case in the Southern District of Illinois set to be heard in East St. Louis on Wednesday.
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