(The Center Square) – A hearing in a federal lawsuit against Illinois’ ban on “assault weapons” is scheduled for next week as Gov. Pritzker said Wednesday there are “limits” to the Second Amendment.
Pritzker said on Wednesday that his gun and magazine ban is meant to curb gun violence.
“There is a Second Amendment to the Constitution, but there are limits to what that means,” Pritzker said at an unrelated event in Champaign.
“One thing it doesn’t mean is that everybody in every circumstance should be able to get a hold of every gun,” Pritzker said.
The governor enacted a ban on more than 170 semi-automatic weapons and magazines on January 10.
The first lawsuit was filed a week later in Crawford County by attorney Thomas Maag.
The lawsuit was then transferred to federal court and is now consolidated with three other cases with a hearing set for Wednesday afternoon in East St. Louis.
In a filing last month, the state argued modern firearms were not in common use when the Second Amendment was ratified in 1788 and the state’s law looks to address “dramatic technological changes” that created weapons beyond self-defense.
Maag said the state’s arguments equating commonly owned modern rifles to hydrogen bombs is absurd.
“It is so far out of the realm that I can’t believe that a lawyer actually wrote it,” Maag told The Center Square. “That tells me the governor himself or the attorney general himself is just playing politics with this.”
Another lawsuit that was filed against Illinois’ gun ban comes from the McHenry County State’s Attorney’s Office. That case is pending in the Northern District of Illinois federal court.
Uniquely, McHenry County is on the other side as a defendant in the Southern District where Assistant State’s Attorney Troy Owens said they mostly side with the plaintiffs.
The only difference Owens said they have with plaintiffs is that McHenry County should not be held liable for attorneys fees if defendants lose the challenge of the gun ban.
“We’re the only defendants in the Southern District who’s taken a position that the plaintiffs [declaratory judgment action], injunction should issue, because [the Protect Illinois Communities Act] is unconstitutional because of [New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen],” Owens told The Center Square.
Plaintiffs argue the state cannot ban commonly owned firearms under the Bruen standard issued by the U.S. Supreme Court last summer.
They argue that standard sets a new precedent for Second Amendment cases to base rulings on “text and tradition” of the amendment, not on a balancing of public safety interests over civil liberties.
It is unclear when the federal judge would rule on a motion for a preliminary injunction. If one is issued, the law would be halted pending an expected appeal.
The federal cases challenging the law on Second Amendment grounds are different from the state-level cases challenging the law on equal protection grounds.
Plaintiffs argue the ban is unconstitutional because it does not apply to active or retired police or others in the law enforcement or security sectors.
Those cases are pending with a case from Macon County to be heard by the Illinois Supreme Court in mid-May.