In a major defeat for the National Rifle Association, the Supreme Court decided this week not to take up a challenge to one of the toughest gun-control statutes in America, a law on the books in Highland Park, Illinois.
Through this inaction, the Supreme Court has cleared a path for other communities across the nation to:
—outlaw assault weapons and high capacity magazines,
—declare these arms contraband and confiscate them,
—and hit violators with jail time and/or a sizable fine.
“The Supreme Court has now signaled that this is consistent with Second Amendment,” Mike McLively, staff attorney at the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, tells Rolling Stone. “This could become a national model.”
The Supreme Court let stand an earlier ruling by the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals that found a community’s right to protect itself from gun violence trumps a fundamentalist reading of the Second Amendment. In short, the circuit court ruled that the individual right to bear arms — discovered by the Supreme Court in its 2008 Heller decision — is not nearly as absolute as the NRA would have America believe.
With respect to the individual right to bear arms, circuit judge Frank Easterbrook wrote that “some categorical limits on the kinds of weapons that can be possessed are proper.” Communities concerned about the dangers of gun violence are justified, he reasoned, in taking action to limit the impact of that violence. “A ban on assault weapons won’t eliminate gun violence in Highland Park,” Easterbrook wrote, “but it may reduce the overall dangerousness of crime that does occur.”