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VICTORY FOR GUN SAFETY IN THE COURTS: Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals Upholds Illinois’ Life-Saving Law Restricting Assault Weapons and Large-Capacity Magazines


NEW YORK – Everytown Law, the nation’s largest team of gun violence prevention litigators, released the following statement in response to a decision by the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals today to uphold Illinois’ law restricting assault weapons and large-capacity magazines and similar local ordinances in Bevis v. City of Naperville. Today’s victory for gun safety comes just one week after a gunman, wielding an assault weapon, carried out two mass shootings in Lewiston, Maine, killing 18 people and wounding 13 more. 

The case centered on a Second Amendment challenge to the State of Illinois’ recently enacted law restricting assault weapons and large-capacity magazines. The law was passed in the wake of the tragic mass shooting in Highland Park, Illinois, where seven people were shot and killed and an additional 48 people were wounded at a July Fourth parade by a shooter using an assault weapon and a large-capacity magazine. The case also involved challenges to ordinances from Cook County, the City of Chicago, and the City of Naperville.

“Assault weapons and weapons equipped with large-capacity magazines can cause massive devastation –just look at what happened last week in Lewiston, or last year in Highland Park. By enacting this common sense law, Illinois legislators took meaningful action to get weapons and accessories of war off of their streets, making their communities safer,” said Eric Tirschwell, Executive Director of Everytown Law. “Today’s decision from the Seventh Circuit to uphold this life-saving law is not only a victory for gun safety, it also marks the first significant appeals court decision on this issue since the Supreme Court’s decision in Bruen and is proof that these laws are consistent with the Second Amendment and can – and should – be upheld by courts across the country.”

From 2015 to 2022, shootings with four or more people killed where assault weapons were used resulted in nearly six times as many people shot, more than twice as many people killed, and 23 times as many people wounded per incident, on average. Additionally, in that time period, at least eight of the ten deadliest mass shooting incidents involved an assault weapon and a large-capacity magazine. 

To date, 10 states and Washington D.C. have enacted laws to prohibit assault weapons, and 14 states and Washington, D.C. have enacted laws to prohibit large-capacity magazines. These laws were repeatedly upheld by federal courts in the fourteen years between the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2008 decision in District of Columbia v. Heller, which first held that there is an individual right under the Second Amendment, and its Second Amendment decision last June in New York State Rifle & Pistol Ass’n v. Bruen

The Bruen decision opened the door for chaos in the courts, welcoming judges to issue extreme decisions on gun safety. Over the last year, the gun lobby has renewed its challenges to assault weapon and large-capacity magazine laws in courts throughout the country, in addition to its numerous challenges on other key gun safety laws.
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