After vagueness hearing, federal judge could strike down Illinois’ gun ban

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(The Center Square) – A federal judge who once ruled plaintiffs challenging Illinois’ gun and magazine ban may be able to prove their case now has the option of striking the law down based on the merits.

Illinois’ ban on more than 170 semi-automatic rifles, shotguns and pistols was enacted on Jan. 10. The law also bans the sale and possession of handgun magazines over 15 rounds and rifle magazines over 10 rounds. Firearms owners with such guns purchased before Jan. 10 have until Jan. 1, 2024 to register their firearms, attachments and .50 caliber ammunition, or face potential criminal penalties.

Shortly after the law went into effect in January, attorney Thomas Maag was the first to file a lawsuit challenging the law on Second Amendment, Fifth Amendment and 14th Amendment grounds. His case was consolidated with other cases in the Southern District of Illinois with the Second Amendment argument taking precedent. Judge Stephen McGlynn issued a preliminary injunction against the law in late April.

After several federal judges in the Northern District of Illinois upheld the law, the cases from both jurisdictions were consolidated by the Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, which issued a stay on McGlynn’s injunction after only six days. The appeals court has the case under advisement, where it remains after the three-judge panel heard oral arguments in late June.

“We’re anxiously awaiting their ruling,” McGlynn said Wednesday as Maag brought his challenge that the law is unconstitutionally vague back to the Southern District of Illinois.

Maag argued the law is vague around the list of firearms and around magazines because there are a slew of such devices that are interchangeable between rifles and handguns.

Arguing for the state, attorney Christopher Wells said Maag’s argument doesn’t rise to the level of a successful vagueness challenge.

Judge Stephen McGlynn said the crux is whether the law infringes on a constitutional right to keep and bear arms.

After the hearing Wednesday in East St. Louis, Maag said a summary judgment would have teeth.

“We’re not asking the court to predict how it might rule in the future, which is what a preliminary injunction is, we’re saying we win and the facts and the law are on our side,” Maag told The Center Square Wednesday.

Maag said from the questions McGlynn asked both sides, he’s confident there will be a ruling against the law.

“Whether he enjoins the entire statute, or just part of it, I think he could go either way,” Maag said. “Obviously I’d prefer a judgment against the entire statute, but those are the number of factors he has to consider.”

McGlynn took the case under advisement and didn’t indicate when he’d rule.

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