Gun Rights Advocates Sue After Ill. Town Ordinance Bans “Assault” Rifles

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Deerfield, IL— Framed as a response to the Feb. 14 school shooting in Parkland, Florida, the Deerfield Village Board passed a ban April 2 on semiautomatic “assault” rifles and high capacity ammunition magazines.

“We hope that our local decision helps spur state and national leaders to take steps to make our communities safer,” said Mayor Harriet Rosenthal. According to The Chicago Tribune, Deerfield’s definition of an “assault weapon” includes “semiautomatic rifles that have a fixed magazine with a capacity to accept more than 10 rounds of ammunition, shotguns with a revolving cylinder,” and “semiautomatic pistols and rifles that can accept large-capacity magazines. ”

In turn, gun rights advocates on April 5 sued the village— which is about 25 miles outside of Chicago— over the ban, while Alan M. Gottlieb, founder of The Second Amendment Foundation, claimed the ordinance “flies in the face of state law.” The Second Amendment Foundation sued Deerfield Village, along with the Illinois State Rifle Association and a Deerfield resident.

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Rosenthal claimed that state law allowed for the updating of the village’s existing ordinance, which gave guidance on transportation and storage of “assault-style” weapons and defined specific models of firearms the rules were applicable to. Despite Rosenthal’s explanation, the lawsuit accuses the village of violating state law.

Although state law allows for amendments to previous ordinances, the lawsuit argues that the sweeping ban under the auspices of an ordinance amendment goes too far. John Boch, president of the Illinois-based gun rights advocacy group Guns Save Life, also said he would be filing a lawsuit.

[Also Read: Under 21 ‘Assault Weapon’ Ban Requiring Gun Surrender Clears Illinois Senate]

“We are going to fight this ordinance, which clearly violates our member’s constitutional rights, and with the help of the NRA, I believe we can secure a victory for law-abiding gun owners in and around Deerfield,” he said.

Rather than simply updating an ordinance, critics contend the new amendment goes much further, particularly with the village’s claim that possession of specified weapons in Deerfield is not “reasonably necessary” to protect an individual’s right to self-defense.

Furthermore, firearm owners are required by law to transfer high-capacity magazines and “assault” rifles out of the village, modify them so they comply with ordinance standards, or surrender them to law enforcement.

According to a report by The Washington Times:

The Supreme Court in 2008 ruled that Americans have a constitutional right to keep a handgun in their home for self-protection, and extended those rights to the states in 2010.

But the high court has declined since then to weigh in on lower court rulings upholding other similar bans on specific semiautomatic weapons — including an ordinance from Highland Park, another Illinois town that Deerfield says it modeled its rules on.

Gun-rights groups pointed to Deerfield’s new language that specifically allows police to confiscate the banned weapons as particularly concerning…

A divided Seventh Circuit appeals court panel upheld the Highland Park ordinance in 2015, saying it didn’t want to try to fill in what the Supreme Court rulings had arguably left open as to whether constitutional protections include a right to own certain semiautomatic weapons.

In December 2015, the Supreme Court declined to reconsider the case.

The ordinance goes into effect on June 13, 2018 – with residents facing fines of up to $1,000 per day for failure to comply within 60 days – and reportedly gives police the authority to confiscate and destroy weapons and magazines, although the village says it will not have police conduct “door to door” compliance checks.

“While the village is trying to disguise this as an amendment to an existing ordinance, it is, in fact, a new law that entirely bans possession of legally owned semi-auto firearms, with no exception for guns previously owned, or any provision for self-defense,” Mr. Gottlieb said.

“This certainly puts the lie to claims by anti-gunners that ‘nobody is coming to take your guns,’” Gottlieb said.

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