May 30, 2023
As gun owners in Illinois find themselves fighting another onerous piece of anti-gun legislation, the U.S. Supreme Court has refused to step in and stop—for now—the on-again, off-again sweeping gun ban that is working its way through court. A new amendment to HB 218—Amendment 1—would allow private cause of action to be brought against any individual or entity involved in the firearms industry by using overly broad terms. The result would do away with the broad protections granted to gun manufacturers and sellers by Congress in the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA).
Under PLCAA, gun manufacturers and dealers cannot be sued for criminal misuse of their legally made, safe products. Amendment 1 would gut that protection, which is critical to the health of the firearms industry.
“The apparent goal is to subject firearms industry participants to a flood of private litigation to financially cripple them with legal fees,” the Illinois State Rifle Association said in an alert to members. “The net result, if successful, would put out of business those who make and sell firearms; this would cut off any supply to law enforcement and members of the armed forces, as well as citizens who lawfully exercise their Second Amendment rights.”
Similar measures in six other states are currently being challenged for violating the PLCAA. The Illinois amendment is currently being opposed by the ISRA, Illinois Manufacturers Association, Springfield Armory, the National Rifle Association (NRA) and the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF). The ISRA is encouraging its members and all Illinois gun owners to contact their legislators and voice their opposition to the amendment.
The new amendment comes just as the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday turned down the opportunity to step into the ongoing fight over the state’s new “assault weapons” ban, called the Protect Illinois Communities Act (PICA). That law bans dozens of firearm models owned and used safely by thousands of Illinoisians and magazines that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition. In late April, U.S. District Judge Stephen P. McGlynn of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois, issued a temporary injunction on the law, blocking its enforcement.
“… can PICA be harmonized with the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution and with Bruen?” the court decision asked. “That is the issue before this Court. The simple answer at this stage in the proceedings is ‘likely no.’”
Yet just a week later, a U.S. Court of Appeals judge granted an emergency stay, leaving the ban in effect for the time being. The Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit is currently considering the case. Despite the law’s unconstitutionality based on the standards from last year’s Bruen ruling by the Supreme Court, the high court earlier this week refused to step in and hear the case. That’s not uncommon for laws that are currently still being hashed out in the lower courts—they could still hear it if it continues up the ladder—but still it has caused concern for some Second Amendment supporters.
Part of that concern arises from questions about Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s loyalty to the standards set down in Bruen. While Kavanaugh signed on to Justice Clarence Thomas’s majority opinion, he also wrote a separate opinion that varies greatly from the majority opinion standards. According to a story at Slate.com, Kavanaugh left the door open for further restrictions on concealed carry permits, including “fingerprinting, a background check, a mental health records check, and training in firearms handling and in laws regarding the use of force.” In the opinion, Kavanaugh wrote that those requirements are “constitutionally permissible.”
Given the fact that none of those restrictions were in effect at the time the Second Amendment was written, it’s likely that none of them live up to the Bruen standard. In the opinion, Kavanaugh also wrote, "Properly interpreted, the Second Amendment allows a 'variety' of gun regulations."
In the end, we’ll have to see what finally happens to the law in the lower courts and whether it eventually gets appealed to the Supreme Court. At that point, we can only hope that the court abides by its own standards and rules the law to be just what it is—blatantly unconstitutional.
About the Author
Freelance writer and editor Mark Chesnut is the owner/editorial director at Red Setter Communications LLC. An avid hunter, shooter and political observer, he has been covering Second Amendment issues and politics on a near-daily basis for nearly 25 years
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