In a powerfully written decision, Judge Stephen P. McGlynn of the Southern District of Illinois said Illinois’ new assault weapon ban known as the Protect Illinois Communities Act, or PICA, is likely to be found unconstitutional when the case goes to trial, and the plaintiffs in the consolidated cases will suffer harm without a preliminary injunction to block its enforcement. Two other district court judges, Democrats, ruled in favor of the law, so this issue to the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit and potentially the Supreme Court.
The decision is worth reading, but here are a few noteworthy points.
The decision clearly rebuts the state’s attempt to rewrite Supreme Court decisions. For example, the defendants wanted to claim that the protections only applied to guns commonly used in self-defense. But Judge McGlynn writes:
“Bruen clearly holds that the Second Amendment protects “possession and use” of weapons “in common use” not just weapons in common use for self-defense as Defendants’ argued. Even if there was a requirement that the “common use” of an “arm” be self-defense, AR-15 style rifles would meet such a test considering that 34.6% of owners utilize these rifles for self-defense outside of their home and 61.9% utilize them for self-defense at home.”
The defendants also wanted to say that protections only applied to certain parts of the guns, not other parts such as the magazine or a pistol brace. But Judge McGlynn strongly strikes down those arguments:
PICA outlaws possession of a “semiautomatic pistol” with a detachable magazine if it is equipped with any of the following: “a threaded barrel,” “a shroud attached to the barrel or that partially or completely encircles the barrel,” “a flash suppressor,” or “arm brace.” PICA further outlaws possession of a magazine for a handgun capable of holding more than 15 rounds of ammunition and of “[a] semiautomatic pistol that has a fixed magazine with the capacity to accept more than 15 rounds.” Defendants contend that such items are not necessary to the functioning of a firearm and are thus not “arms” and therefore not protected by the Second Amendment.
Defendants’ argument is not persuasive. The Seventh Circuit has recognized the Second Amendment as extending to “corollar[ies] to the meaningful exercise of the core right to possess firearms for self-defense.” It is hard to imagine something more closely correlated to the right to use a firearm in self-defense than the ability to effectively load ammunition into the firearm. The Third Circuit recognized the importance of this corollary and held that “a magazine is an arm under the Second Amendment.”. . .
It is hard to imagine something more closely correlated to the right to use a firearm in self-defense than the ability to effectively load ammunition into the firearm. . . .
PICA also interferes with the meaningful exercise of Second Amendment rights for one group of individuals — those with disabilities. To provide one example, consider arm braces for semiautomatic pistols. As noted above, PICA prohibits the use of an arm brace on any semiautomatic pistol with a detachable magazine without any caveat or exceptions. The Department of Justice has also attempted to regulate possession and registration of arm braces. However, one notable distinction exists. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (“ATF”) has recognized that such braces are necessary for those with disabilities to use a firearm by directing that “[t]his rule does not affect ‘stabilizing braces’ that are objectively designed and intended as a ‘stabilizing brace’ for use by individuals with disabilities.” . . .