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Illinois gun ban plaintiffs file for hearings with U.S. Supreme Court

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(The Center Square) – The U.S. Supreme Court now has requests from plaintiffs to hear multiple cases challenging gun and magazine bans.

Last week, plaintiffs in a case challenging Maryland’s ban on certain semi-automatic firearms filed for writ of certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court. That’s a request for the nation’s high court to hear the challenge.

“The Second Amendment Foundation filed cert petition to the Supreme Court over the Maryland assault weapons ban last week, which has been kicking around longer than the Illinois one,” Second Amendment Foundation founder Alan Gottlieb told The Center Square Monday. “And now we just filed the one on Illinois [Harrell v. Raoul].”

Also Monday, plaintiffs in the case Bevis v. Naperville filed for the U.S. Supreme Court to take their case. The case has already been to the Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, which said the state has a likelihood of winning on the merits.

Hannah Hill with the National Association for Gun Rights that represents the plaintiffs said this time is different from previous attempts to have the Supreme Court intervene.

“What we were asking for was not a ruling on the case itself but rather a temporary emergency stay of the underlying law and ordinance,” Hill told The Center Square. “What we’re asking for now is an actual ruling on the case.”

After the Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals sided with Illinois in November, Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul said such firearms “were intended for military use.”

“[T]he Protect Illinois Communities Act is a tool to prevent them from being used to cause devastation in our schools, places of worship and recreation spaces,” Raoul said.

Hill said with the Bevis and Harrell cases on top of a case challenging Maryland’s gun ban, the U.S. Supreme Court has work to do.

“They need to take one of these cases, preferably all of them, and they need to weigh in and to smack down the lower court’s defiance of what they said in Heller and Bruen [previous U.S. Supreme Court precedent on Second Amendment rights].”

Gottlieb sees the prospect of the court taking all of the cases.

“They’re probably going to consolidate a significant number of these assault weapons ban cert petitions all in one fell swoop and take the responsibility to set these lower courts straight that they can’t thumb their nose at the U.S. Supreme Court’s prior decisions.”

Previous Supreme Court precedent says firearms in common use cannot be banned, and any gun control laws must adhere to the text of the Second Amendment and founding-era firearms regulations.

In the Bevis petition, the plaintiffs say the Seventh Circuit was wrong stating the banned firearms are not “arms” under the Second Amendment and failed to properly apply the history and tradition test. Plaintiffs also say the appeals court used interest balancing, which precedent specifically said can no longer be used.

A petition from the Barnett v. Raoul gun ban challenge from Illinois was also filed to the U.S. Supreme Court Monday. Plaintiffs there say allowing the Seventh Circuit’s ruling to stand “emboldens others to do them one better.”

Illinois State Rifle Association Executive Director Richard Pearson, who is backing the Harrell case, said he’s happy that multiple cases are requesting the Supreme Court to hear the issue.

“Because the Supreme Court will then get the idea that people are concerned about this,” Pearson told The Center Square.

It’s unclear when the U.S. Supreme Court would make a decision on whether to take the cases. Hill said it could take months, or even a year.

In the Southern District of Illinois federal court, Judge Stephen McGlynn has said he’s moving forward on the merits. A scheduling conference in that consolidated challenge is set for Feb. 28, where plaintiffs are expected to detail more about what witnesses, experts and evidence they hope to present during trial.

Illinois enacted the ban on 170 semi-automatic firearms and magazines over certain capacities last year. The law included a registration requirement for those with banned firearms from before the Jan. 10, 2023 enactment date. The most recent data shows, of around 2.4 million Firearm Owner ID card holders in Illinois, 1.46% have registered banned items with Illinois State Police.

“People impacted by these gun ban laws surely don’t believe that the laws are constitutional and as a result you can see from the registration data that the compliance rate is close to zero,” Gottlieb said.

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