Supreme Court won’t put Illinois gun law on hold during court challenge

Assault-style weapons in a gun shop.
Assault-style weapons in a gun shop.(WEEK)
Published: May. 17, 2023 at 10:51 AM CDT
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WASHINGTON (AP) - The U.S. Supreme Court said Wednesday that Illinois can, for now, keep in place a new law that bars the sale of certain semi-automatic guns and large-capacity magazines.

The high court denied an emergency request from those challenging the law, which bans so-called assault weapons. The court did not comment and no justice publicly dissented.

Since the beginning of the year, 115 people have died in 22 mass killings - an average of one mass killing a week, according to a database maintained by The Associated Press and USA Today in a partnership with Northeastern University. The database counts killings involving four or more fatalities, not including the perpetrator. On May 6, a man armed with an AR-15-style rifle and other firearms fatally shot eight people, including three children, at a Dallas-area mall.

The case before the Supreme Court involves an Illinois law enacted in January. The legislation bans the sale of a series of guns including the AR-15 and AK-47. The law also bars the sale of magazines that have more than 15 rounds of ammunition for handguns and more than 10 rounds of ammunition for a long gun.

For now, people who legally owned the gun and magazines in question before the law’s enactment, can keep them. But the guns must be registered with law enforcement.

Nine other states and the District of Columbia have gun bans similar to the one in Illinois, according to the gun control group Brady. California, Connecticut, Hawaii, New Jersey and New York also require registration of guns purchased prior to the law, while four other states – Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts and Washington -- do not.

The Illinois legislation was driven largely by the killing of seven people at a 4th of July parade last year in Highland Park. The shooter was armed with an AR-15 rifle and 30-round magazines.

A federal trial court and appeals court also declined to put the law on hold.

The case also involves a separate, so-called assault weapon ban passed by the city of Naperville.

Just last year, the Supreme Court’s conservative majority handed gun-rights activists a major victory, ruling that Americans have a right to carry firearms in public for self-defense. But the decision left open whether various restrictions states might impose would be constitutional.


Associated Press reporter Alanna Durkin Richer contributed to this report from Boston.