On Monday morning, the United States Supreme Court neither accepted or denied a potentially significant case on the ability of some Americans to own assault weapons.
The case of Friedman v. City of Highland Park has been listed twice in recent weeks for consideration by the nine Supreme Court Justices in private conference. It takes a minimum for four Justices to agree to hear an appeal before the full Court during its current term. The next private conference for the Court is scheduled for October 30.
Dr. Arie Friedman and the Illinois State Rifle Association say the suburban Illinois city violated their Second Amendment rights when it passed an ownership ban on various semi-automatic weapons, as well as a ban on ammunition clips that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition.
In April 2015, a divided the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit ruled in favor of the Highland Park weapons ban. In the 2-1 decision, Judge Frank Easterbrook said that the issue of a national right to own specific weapons was best left to the Supreme Court.
Two landmark rulings, District of Columbia v. Heller and McDonald v. City of Chicago, set recent Supreme Court precedents on gun ownership in very general terms.
“Heller and McDonald set limits on the regulation of firearms; but within those limits, they leave matters open. The best way to evaluate the relation among assault weapons, crime, and self‐defense is through the political process and scholarly debate, not by parsing ambiguous passages in the Supreme Court’s opinions,” said Easterbrook in April 2015.
Judge Daniel Manion disagreed with Easterbrook in a strongly worded dissent. Limiting gun ownership restricts self-defense and represents an “enormous transfer of authority from the citizens of this country to the government - a result directly contrary to our Constitution and to our political tradition,” he wrote.
The ban “upholds an ordinance that violates the Second Amendment rights of its citizens to keep arms in their homes for the purpose of defending themselves, their families, and their property,” Manion concluded.
In their appeal to the Supreme Court, the attorneys for Friedman want the Court to spell out some more details on its Second Amendment jurisprudence.
“The Seventh Circuit upheld bans on commonly possessed firearms and magazines that clearly are unconstitutional under Heller, and it did so by applying a newly minted three-part test, all three parts of which stand in direct conflict with. Enough is enough,” their brief says.
Highland Park petitioned the Supreme Court to deny the appeal. “The City of Highland Park’s ordinance bans only highly dangerous weapons that have been used in a series of mass shooting events, and it does not violate the Second Amendment,” it claims. “Restrictions on assault weapons and large capacity magazines have been repeatedly held to be in harmony with this Court’s decisions in Heller and McDonald and do not impose an unconstitutional burden on the rights secured by the Second Amendment.”
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