Supreme Court won’t hear challenge to city’s assault weapons ban

8 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Supreme Court Refuses To Take Up Case Challenging Semi-Automatic Weapons Ban.

The US Supreme Court handed gun control advocates a modest victory on Monday, deciding not to hear a challenge from gun rights activists to a Chicago suburb’s ordinance banning assault weapons. The Supreme Court Monday turned away a challenge by gun advocates to a law banning semi-automatic assault weapons and large-capacity magazines in a Chicago suburb.

The ordinance from the city of Highland Park, Ill., passed in 2013, bans various semi-automatic weapons (it also bans some weapons by name, including AR-15s and AK-47s) as well as magazines holding more than 10 rounds of bullets. Five days after the San Bernardino mass shooting, the justices left in place a lower court ruling that found local governments have latitude in deciding how to regulate firearms. Supreme Court announced Monday it won’t hear a case challenging the right of cities to ban semi-automatic weapon, including those with high capacity magazines, a major blow to Second Amendment advocates who are pushing for the weapons to be legalized nationwide.

In October, the federal appeals court in New York largely upheld similar laws in Connecticut and New York, among a handful of states that ban semi-automatic weapons. The nation’s highest court has repeatedly turned away challenges to gun restrictions since two landmark rulings that spelled out the right to a handgun to defend one’s own home. Thomas said the weapons ban “is highly suspect because it broadly prohibits common semi-automatic firearms used for lawful purposes” by roughly five million Americans. “The overwhelming majority of citizens who own and use such rifles do so for lawful purposes, including self-defense and target shooting,” Thomas wrote.

The high court’s 2008 ruling confirmed Americans’ right to have a gun in their home for self-defense, but the details of how far that can go are still largely decided by state and local governments, whose laws vary widely. The case had been under consideration at the high court for two months, but the delay in dealing with it now appears mainly due to waiting for Thomas to finish his opinion.

The Second Amendment to the US Constitution protects an individual’s right to keep and bear arms, but legal arguments over its scope have persisted for decades. Judge Frank Easterbrook concluded that there is a “substantial benefit” to the Highland Park ordinance if it makes the public feel less at risk from a mass shooting. Variations of the Bushmaster AR-15, one of the guns specifically banned by Highland Park, were used in the Newtown, Conn., school massacre and the theater shootings in Aurora, Colo. In 2013, when state lawmakers reacted to the court ruling by making it legal to carry a gun, they gave cities around the state 10 days to come up with local restrictions on assault weapons, or forfeit their right to do so.

Both were hospitalized. “I do want to point out this was a directed event” Ciminelli said at a media briefing. “We have no information or evidence of any kind that this constituted a general threat to the University of Rochester community.” Lawyers for Highland Park, in defense of the ordinance, noted that it was enacted “following a series of tragic mass shootings across the nation,” including the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, where a gunman killed 20 first graders and six adults.

Citing FBI statistics, The Christian Science Monitor’s Harry Bruinius previously reported that only 248 of the nearly 12,000 murders committed in the United States in 2014 were perpetrated with rifles of any sort. Bruinius writes: “Crimes involving assault weapons did decline, but this decline was offset, the report concluded, by an increase in the use of other guns equipped with high-capacity magazines.

He takes issue with the term “assault weapons,” calling that a political term developed by “anti-gun publicists.” He says they are not fully automatic guns that fire repeatedly with a single pull of the trigger, instead they fire only one shot with each pull of the trigger. “The millions of Americans who own so-called ‘assault weapons’ use them for the same lawful purposes as any other type of firearm: hunting, recreational shooting, and self-defense,” he wrote, adding that the firearms are “almost never used for crime” because criminals “far prefer” ordinary handguns that are easier to carry and conceal.

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