The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit on April 27, 2015, affirmed the constitutionality of the City of Highland Park’s ban on assault weapons and large-capacity magazines.
In a 12-page written decision authored by Judge Frank Easterbrook, the Seventh Circuit affirmed the U.S. District Court ruling that Highland Park’s ordinance did not violate the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
On June 24, 2013, the City passed an ordinance prohibiting the possession, sale, or manufacture of certain military-style weapons and large capacity magazines. The City later amended the ordinance to create exceptions for qualified retired law enforcement officers and for owners of curios or relics that are safely stored. The City’s ordinance was modeled after a federal statute that had been in effect for many years before its natural expiration, and a Cook County ordinance that had been upheld by the Illinois Supreme Court.
On December 12, 2013, Plaintiffs Arie S. Friedman MD and the Illinois State Rifle Association filed a complaint claiming that the ordinance, on its face, violated the Second Amendment. Both the City and the Plaintiffs filed cross motions for summary judgment. On September 18, 2014, Judge John Darrah (U.S. District Court – Northern District of Illinois) ruled that the City of Highland Park’s ban on assault weapons and large-capacity magazines does not violate the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. On appeal, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit affirmed the decision of the court on April 27, 2015.
The City’s Corporation Counsel, Steven M. Elrod of Holland & Knight LLP, drafted the ordinance and supervised the litigation defense strategy. However, to save legal fees for the City, an arrangement was made through Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence to engage the Perkins Coie law firm on a pro bono basis to represent the City. Chris Wilson, a Federal Court litigator, and Managing Partner of the Chicago Office of Perkins Coie, handled the case for the firm.
According to Elrod, the Seventh Circuit accepted the City’s central argument that the banned weapons were “dangerous and unusual” and therefore not protected under the Second Amendment. The Court also recognized that the City created a fair balance by adopting an ordinance that serves to protect the safety of its residents while not completely banning all types of weapons. Further, the Court stated that “laws similar to Highland Park’s reduce the share of gun crimes involving assault weapons.”
– Information from the City of Highland Park’s newsletter