The United States Supreme Court – at the first of December – demonstrated that the Second Amendment rights that some of us take for granted can be severely limited in a hurry.
What did the Supreme Court do? It refused to take up the appeal filed in the case of Freidman v. City of Highland Park. In a nutshell, the Supreme Court has let stand a ban on so-called assault rifles and large capacity magazines by refusing to hear the case and letting a decision from the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago stand.
Essentially, Highland Park – a Chicago suburb – passed an ordinance defining what assault weapons and large capacity magazines are and then banning them. Under the ordinance, a large capacity magazine is simply one that holds 10 or more bullets. Meanwhile, an assault weapon is a semiautomatic rifle or pistol that can accept high capacity magazines and have a protruding grip (or something else that looks menacing, seemingly) that can be held by the non-trigger hand. Oh, and a shotgun that can hold more than five rounds or accept a magazine is also an assault weapon in Highland Park.
In other words, you can’t possess an AR-15 or one of many other modern hunting rifles in Highland Park. And, of course, you can forget about those double-stack pistol magazines that routinely hold over 10 bullets. Naturally, certain government officials and law enforcement officers (both active and retired) are exempt from the law.
People who owned prohibited firearms were required to either modify them, take them out of the city or turn them over for destruction. Violation of the ordinance results in a fine up to $1,000 and/or imprisonment for up to six months.
A citizen who owned several firearms that were banned by the Highland Park ordinance took exception to such gun grabbing, so he joined up with a rifle club to sue the city for infringing on the Second Amendment with the law. The ban was upheld all the way through the 7th Circuit and the plaintiffs are out of appeals. The Supreme Court – by its very inaction – has found that the ban did not violate the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.
The thing to worry about, of course, is that the decision (or lack thereof) pretty well sets a precedent. If that ban passed Constitutional muster in Illinois, wouldn’t the same be true if a city in Arkansas decided to pass something similar?
That Friedman case, then, could inspire more cities to ban what they define as assault weapons and high capacity clips. Combine that decision with President Barack Obama’s announcement that he’ll start clamping down on access to firearms with executive orders, and it appears that we’ll see a few Second Amendment fights pop up here and there in the months to come.
This column was authored by Ethan C. Nobles and originally appeared in the Jan. 4, 2016, edition of the Daily Record in Little Rock.
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