The Illinois Supreme Court today reversed a trial court’s dismissal of a lawsuit challenging Cook County’s so-called “assault weapons” ordinance banning certain commonly owned and widely used semi-automatic firearms, including modern sporting rifles — a decision the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the trade association for the firearms and ammunition industry, called a victory for the Second Amendment.
The court actually reached two decisions in Wilson v. Cook County, sending part of the case challenging the ordinance on Second Amendment grounds back to the lower court, while at the same time upholding the lower court’s dismissal of the plaintiffs’ challenge that the county’s ordinance was unconstitutionally vague.
Given recent U.S. Supreme Court rulings in the Heller and McDonald cases reaffirming the individual right to lawfully own firearms that are in common use, NSSF is confident of a favorable decision by the trial court following its reconsideration of the Second Amendment infringement challenge to the ordinance.
“A record can now be developed in the trial court demonstrating that these rifles are used for legitimate purposes, and the claim that they are 20 times more likely to be used in the commission of a crime is a canard. It’s time to bring Cook County into the 21st Century,” said Lawrence G. Keane, NSSF senior vice president and general counsel.
NSSF filed an amicus brief in Wilson v. Cook County last August to help educate the court about modern sporting rifles and their owners and the lawful purposes for which these firearms are commonly and widely used, such as target shooting, hunting, collecting and self-defense. In its brief, NSSF said Cook County’s ban on the ownership of modern sporting rifles and their magazines infringed on the core Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.
In addition to NSSF filing an amicus brief, the Illinois Supreme Court allowed the Commonwealth Second Amendment, the Illinois Conservation Police Lodge, certain Illinois legislators, the Illinois Firearms Manufacturers Association and the National Rifle Association to submit amicus briefs in support of plaintiffs.
In the Wilson case, various plaintiffs challenged the broad and sweeping assault-weapons ordinance banning the manufacture, sale and possession of several popular classes of semi-automatic firearms, including commonly owned and used modern sporting rifles, simply because of their cosmetic features.
The Illinois State Rifle Association funded the named plaintiffs in the lawsuit.