Last week, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals issued a lengthy opinion in a Second Amendment challenge involving six consolidated cases. Bevis et al., v. State of Illinois et al..
The underlying cases involved challenges to the constitutionality of the State of Illinois “Protect Illinois Communities Act,” that restricted the sale, delivery, manufacture, and possession of certain types of semi-automatic weapons and high capacity magazines and also challenges to various municipal ordinances that imposed similar restrictions. The nature of these appeals varied as some of the district courts had issued injunctions against the enforcement of challenged restrictions and other district courts had denied requests to enjoin the laws.
In its opinion, the Seventh Circuit agreed with the underlying court decisions that refused to enjoin enforcement of the challenged law/ordinances, finding that the State of Illinois and the municipalities have a strong likelihood of success in the underlying lawsuits that challenged their restrictions. In analyzing the Second Amendment challenges, the Seventh Circuit discussed the difference between a handgun (which the Court acknowledged that law-abiding citizens have the right to keep for self defense) and nuclear weapons (which the Court said would not be protected by the Second Amendment right to bear arms) and determined that the type of weapons restricted by the challenged law and ordinances fell closer to the latter category, which the Court determined were more like military weaponry than civilian weaponry. The Court concluded that military weaponry does not fall within the type of “arms” protected under the Second Amendment.
The opinion includes a very detailed analysis of the Second Amendment and the cases that have been decided before this one, both in the majority opinion (which ruled in favor of the State and municipalities) and in the dissenting opinion. While lengthy, it is an interesting read.