Naperville, Illinois, will have to defend its ban on the sale of AR-15s and similar firearms before the Supreme Court.
Justice Amy Coney Barrett, who oversees the circuit the case against the ban is happening in, asked the city to respond to an emergency request for an injunction against the ordinance on Monday. That means at least one justice wants to hear more about the case before the High Court decides whether or not to weigh in. The city has until May 8th to answer claims that the ban violates the Constitution.
“We’re thankful the Supreme Court is taking the Second Amendment rights of Illinoisans seriously,” Dudley Brown of the National Association for Gun Rights (NAGR), a plaintiff in the case, said in a statement.
The move may indicate the Court is getting closer to taking up a case against so-called assault weapons bans. After it handed down a new test for gun cases in New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen, the Court ordered the Fourth Circuit to rehear a case upholding Maryland’s ban. Federal judges have been split on whether the bans violate the Second Amendment under the new test, opening the door for potential Supreme Court intervention and clarification.
Illinois enacted a statewide ban earlier this year, but it has since been blocked in state and federal court. It has also faced substantial backlash from Illinois sheriffs, a majority of which say they won’t enforce the ban because they consider it unconstitutional.
NAGR was denied a preliminary injunction against the Naperville ordinance in February, and the Seventh Circuit rejected the gun-rights group’s request to block enforcement of the law while its appeal is being processed. Now, the group is making the same request to the Supreme Court.
If the Court does issue an injunction against the ordinance, it will signal similar bans adopted by ten states are unconstitutional. That could upend the debate over gun control in America, which has largely centered around prohibitions on the AR-15 and similar guns. But, while Barrett’s request for a brief increases the odds the case will see action, most cases where briefs are requested do not get a full hearing.
NAGR said it is confident it will prevail in the case, though.
“Any ban on so-called ‘Assault Weapons’ is plainly unconstitutional, and now it is on the city of Naperville to explain the legal justification for their ban,” Brown said. “Of course, there isn’t any. The bans were ludicrous from the start, and if Illinois had any sense, they would wave the white flag now and save us all some time.”
“We are aware of the request and anticipated that there would be legal challenges, but at this point we do not have any comment,” Linda L. LaCloche, Naperville communications director, told The Reload.
UPDATE 8:35 AM EASTERN 5-2-2023: This story has been updated with comment from Naperville.