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Recent U.S. Supreme Court rulings could impact Illinois gun laws

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(The Center Square) – Recent rulings from the U.S. Supreme Court impacting firearms has those in Illinois’ gun control debate declaring their sides are bolstered.

In the case Garland v. Cargill, the majority opinion said federal government agencies cannot create laws through rulemaking, as was done with the ATF banning devices that can connect to a semi-automatic rifle to increase the rate of fire.

“A bump stock does not convert a semiautomatic rifle into a machine gun any more than a shooter with a lightning-fast trigger finger does,” Justice Clarence Thomas wrote. “Even with a bump stock, a semiautomatic rifle will fire only one shot for every ‘function of the trigger.’”

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Illinois’ ban on bump stocks remains in place, despite the lifting of the federal ban.

“This is not a Second Amendment ruling, it’s really a ruling about regulatory authority of the ATF,” Pritzker said after last week’s ruling.

The dissent acknowledged semi-automatic firearms are “common” when discussing the event that prompted the Trump administration from moving forward with the ban outside of an act of Congress.

“On October 1, 2017, a shooter opened fire from a hotel room overlooking an outdoor concert in Las Vegas, Nevada, in what would become the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history,” wrote Justice Sonia Sotomayor. “Within a matter of minutes, using several hundred rounds of ammunition, the shooter killed 58 people and wounded over 500. He did so by affixing bump stocks to commonly available, semiautomatic rifles.”

Illinois State Rifle Association’s Ed Sullivan said acknowledging semi-automatic rifles are common will be important to the ongoing challenge against Illinois’ gun ban.

“They’re using our language,” Sullivan told The Center Square. “They’re using exactly what we’ve been saying the whole time. We think that signals something that will be favorable to us for sure.”

In the challenge against Illinois’ semi-automatic firearm ban, the U.S. Supreme Court has yet to determine if it will take the case on preliminary grounds. The Southern District of Illinois federal court scheduled a bench trial for the case for Sept. 16. Arguments include whether government can ban commonly owned firearms.

In the Rahimi case decided Friday, the majority opinion said those with domestic violence orders of protection can be prohibited from possessing firearms.

The court held, “When an individual has been found by a court to pose a credible threat to the physical safety of another, that individual may be temporarily disarmed consistent with the Second Amendment.”

State Rep. Maura Hirschauer, D-Batavia, said that bolsters the need for her bill requiring courts to order a warrant for law enforcement to confiscate firearms from subjects of orders of protection.

“While this ruling is a great relief for survivors of gender-based violence, the federal protections affirmed today merely preserve the status quo – and for tens of thousands of women and families, it is clear that this is not enough,” Hirschauer said in a statement. “We now know without question that we can do more, and we must. Here in Illinois, we should move forward by enacting Karina’s Bill, which will provide clear guidance for getting guns out of the hands of abusers, and ensure those weapons are removed sooner – all within a framework that justices have now overwhelmingly endorsed.”

Sullivan said if lawmakers attempt to pass Hirschauer’s bill, they’ll have to follow the Rahimi ruling.

“You’re going to have to give someone a day in court before you can act,” Sullivan said.

Sullivan said the Rahimi case could lead to challenges of clear and present danger reports blocking someone from getting firearms, or even certain bond conditions.

“How do you force someone to turn over their firearms under a bond condition when they’ve never been to court,” he said.

The Illinois Sheriffs’ Association remains opposed to Hirschauer’s bill.

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