Earlier this month, U.S. District Court Judge John Darrah handed the gun sense movement yet another legal victory by upholding a local ordinance that prohibits military-style assault weapons and large capacity ammunition magazines (“LCMs”) in the city of Highland Park, Illinois. The decision is the most recent in a growing string of cases unanimously finding that prohibitions on assault weapons and LCMs do not infringe on the Second Amendment1.
Plaintiffs in the case, Friedman v. City of Highland Park, tried unsuccessfully to argue that the ordinance violated Second Amendment rights, but after carefully weighing the evidence from both sides, Judge Darrah firmly disagreed. “The record is clear,” he wrote, “that the features of the prohibited firearms, including LCMs, derive from military weapons with a decidedly offensive purpose of quickly acquiring multiple targets and firing at those targets without a frequent need to reload.” In light of their deadly nature, the judge concluded that prohibiting assault weapons and LCMs is a reasonable way to protect public safety without unconstitutionally burdening self-defense rights.
This outcome marks the tenth major court victory for common sense gun laws in 2014. Despite a concerted effort by the gun lobby to challenge a host of reasonable firearm regulations, courts have rejected Second Amendment challenges to laws ranging from universal background checks2 and firearm registration3 to safe storage4 and restrictions on assault weapons and LCMs5. The message from the courts is clear: the vast majority of sensible gun laws are fully compatible with the Second Amendment.
The Law Center played an important role in many of these victories, filing amicus briefs in defense of smart laws designed to protect our communities. The Friedman decision, for example, has already been appealed by the plaintiffs and the Law Center plans to file an amicus brief with the Seventh Circuit in support of Highland Park’s prohibition of assault weapons and LCMs. Even when faced with legal setbacks, the Law Center continues to provide unique expertise to minimize the damage from regressive changes to gun policy. For example, after Washington, D.C., was forced to rewrite its public carry laws earlier this year, the Law Center provided model legislation that helped lead to the enactment of one of the strictest public carry permitting systems in the country.
The encouraging truth is that Second Amendment victories in the courts greatly outnumber the few defeats. In over 900 cases tracked by the Law Center since the landmark Heller decision in 2008, courts have rejected Second Amendment challenges to reasonable gun regulations 96 percent of the time. Stay tuned as the Law Center continues to defend common sense gun laws against yet more challenges from the gun lobby. With the continued support of our membership, we fully expect more big wins for smart gun laws as we head into the final months of 2014.
- See, Heller v. District of Columbia, 670 F. 3d 1244, 1260-64 (D.C. Cir. 2011) (upholding the District of Columbia’s ban on assault weapons and large capacity ammunition magazines after applying intermediate scrutiny); N.Y. State Rifle & Pistol Ass’n v. Cuomo, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 182307 (W.D.N.Y. Dec. 31, 2013) (upholding New York’s assault weapon and large capacity ammunition magazine ban under the same standard); Kampfer v. Cuomo, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 1479 (N.D.N.Y Jan. 7, 2014) (upholding New York’s assault weapons ban by finding it does not substantially burden Second Amendment rights); Colo. Outfitters Ass’n v. Hickenlooper, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 87021 (D. Colo. June 26, 2014) (upholding Colorado’s ban on large capacity ammunition magazines); Kolbe v. O’Malley, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 110976 (D. Md. Aug. 12, 2014) (upholding Maryland’s ban on assault weapons and large capacity ammunition magazines). ⤴︎
- Colo. Outfitters Ass’n v. Hickenlooper, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 87021 (D. Colo. June 26, 2014) (upholding Colorado’s requirement that background checks be conducted on certain private transfers of firearms). ⤴︎
- Heller v. District of Columbia (“Heller II”), 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 66569 (D.D.C., 2014) (upholding all aspects of the District’s firearm registration laws under intermediate scrutiny review). ⤴︎
- Jackson v. City & County of San Francisco, 746 F.3d 953 (9th Cir. 2014). ⤴︎
- Kampfer v. Cuomo, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 1479, at *17-19 & n.10 (N.D.N.Y Jan. 7, 2014) (upholding New York’s assault weapons ban by finding it does not substantially burden Second Amendment rights); Colo. Outfitters Ass’n v. Hickenlooper, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 87021 (D. Colo. June 26, 2014) (upholding Colorado’s ban on large capacity ammunition magazines); Kolbe v. O’Malley, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 110976 (D. Md. Aug. 12, 2014) (upholding Maryland’s ban on assault weapons and large capacity ammunition magazines). ⤴︎