Supreme Court continues to mull ‘assault weapon’ ban case

The U.S. Supreme Court took no action this week on an important appeal to an Illinois city’s arbitrary ban on certain guns and magazines.

The challenge involves the case of gun owner Arie Friedman filed against the Chicago suburb of Highland Park. Backed by Illinois State Rifle Association and a number of firearms manufacturers and trade groups, Friedman sought to take the city to task for its 2013 ban on what it defines to be assault rifles to include common AR-15s, and detachable magazines that hold more than 10 cartridges.

Led by West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, 24 state attorneys general and a myriad of gun rights groups are urging the nation’s highest court to take up the case. Placed on the Supreme Court’s docket in July, it has been distributed for conference three times only to have no action taken.

“Our view is that the Supreme Court was clear. If a firearm is commonly possessed by law-abiding citizens for lawful purposes, it cannot be banned,” David Thompson, an attorney for Friedman, told the Chicago Tribune. “That should be the end of it.”

Friedman lost his claim to own now-prohibited guns and magazines in violation of the city’s ordinance to a lower court and appealed to the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals last year.

That three-judge panel, staffed by a trio of appointments by President Ronald Reagan, in April sided with the city and supporting gun control group the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence in upholding the previous ruling by a 2-1 vote.

Representatives for the city stand by the ban, citing safety concerns.

“In light of the mass shootings in towns that are very similar in size and population to Highland Park, places you would least expect to have gun violence, there was a catastrophe,” said Steven Elrod, an attorney for the city. “The City Council said, ‘We don’t want a similar catastrophe and the most effective way to prevent it was to ban assault weapons.'”

Now, with justices set to review the petition again for a fourth time this Friday, there is much at stake in the case.

If allowed to stand, the Highland Park ordinance could encourage other municipalities to establish their own bans, leading to a new round of gun control laws at the local level. Bob Owens at Bearing Arms even went so far as to cite such a decision as leading to a possible second Civil War.

Should the court hear arguments and find for Friedman on constitutional grounds, the decision could lead to such bans falling nationwide.

Orders from the Nov. 6 conference should be available on Monday. Four of the nine justices have to vote to hear the case, which is rare, with less than 150 petitions granted out of more than 7,000 submitted on average to the court each year.