Some would say the sky is falling, others believe that the earth is crumbling beneath their feet. For me, I am just glad that I own guns, because I think the whole world has gone crazy. Politics are crazier than ever, parts of the world are at war (and others are on the brink of being sucked in), demonstrations are breaking out in the streets of just about every major city and college campus… and even the courts — State and Federal — cannot agree about the law.
In the Bruen decision (New York), the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) came down clearly on the side of gun owners and the Second Amendment. It went so far as to not only rule the citizens had a right to carry a gun outside of the home, but to also set a new standard for gun laws that seek to limit the Second Amendment rights of gun owners.
Then, California struck. It seemed to snub its nose at the SCOTUS decision. Fortunately, United States District Court Judge Robert Benitez ruled in Duncan v. Bonta that California’s ban on magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds violated the Second Amendment. His reasoning was the most interesting part — and a must read.
Gun owners had a few minutes to collectively breathe a sigh of relief, thinking the courts had finally started stepping up to protect our rights. After all SCOTUS’ new guidelines clearly changed the calculus for determining whether a restriction to our Second Amendment rights were outweighed by a need for the public safety.
However, in January of 2023, the Illinois Legislature passed the Protect Illinois Communities Act (“PICA”), which banned more than 190 commonly owned arms by mislabeling them “assault weapons.” It also banned commonly owned magazines by mislabeling them “large capacity.” Pro Second Amendment groups immediately responded with court filings.
Initially, the courts issued an injunction that allowed Illinoisans to purchase the banned items under an injunction that suspended enforcement. Citizens flocked to retailers while they could and secured the firearms and accessories the state attempted to ban. Most thought this was an opportune window for a proverbial “last chance.”
Then, Illinois reared its ugly head last week. In a 2–1 vote, a three-judge panel of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals threw out a lower-court injunction imposed against the firearms restrictions in one set of cases and affirmed decisions keeping the law intact in another batch. Basically, what happened was the appellate panel held that like other constitutionally protected freedoms, Second Amendment gun rights were subject to ‘certain limits’ that can be legitimately imposed by the government. While true, this ruling clearly flies in the face of the Bruen decision by the U.S. Supreme Court. It also fails to account for the requirement of being “consistent with this nation’s historical tradition of firearm regulation” to pass muster.
Writing for the 7th Circuit, Judge Diane Wood (appointed to the bench by President Clinton), said supporters of Illinois’ gun law “have a strong likelihood of success” in further litigation considering the “tools of history and tradition to which the Supreme Court directed us” in the New York case and a similar challenge in the District of Columbia.
I guess that means the means test set forth by the Supreme Court can be ignored if the judge simply states that she ‘believes’ she is right, and case will be won eventually?
To make it worse, lawmakers are claiming any firearms or “high-capacity” magazines purchased under the injunction are illegal and the owners may be subject to prosecution.
So, the 9th Circuit is saying that banning so-called assault weapons and high-capacity (standard) magazines is unconstitutional, while the 7th Circuit is ignoring the means testing set forth by SCOTUS and ruling in favor of banning the so-called assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. And what does that mean to you me? You know, the average gun owner.
Confusion, panic, fear of running afoul of the law. After all, gun laws only apply to law-abiding citizens — by definition. I was fortunate enough to have moved out of Illinois a few years ago, so the silliness does not currently affect me as much. I live in a free state, a gun-friendly free state. Also, I have a safe full of AR-15s, AK-47s, and all the other guns the anti-gunners want to ban. Over the years, I have collected dozens upon dozens of 30-round magazines too. Not that I need that many, but I have seen the panic in the past. I live under the ‘I’d rather have them and not need them then need them and not be able to buy them. Besides, picking up a few extras here and there never put a real dent in the budget.
Some in Illinois where lucky enough to escape the state’s draconian boot to the throat with a temporary injunction. Citizens went on shopping sprees to stash an evil AR-15 or three in the gun safe before the court struct again. Sales of 30-round magazines instantly shot up. Those of you living is states or cities that are banning firearms and accessories or threatening to ban them should learn from the plight of gun owners in Illinois.
In the spirit of ‘one upmanship’ let’s look at accessories. Under California law, I legally owned a SKS rifle. It was legal with a bayonet attached. I could swap the fixed magazine for a detachable magazine. If I did not like the stock, I could swap it to a Monte Carlo (thumbhole) stock. All of these were legal modifications, as well as a host of others — individually. However, any three from a list suddenly made the rifle an assault weapon. So, I could have a bayonet, but not with a detachable magazine too. Or I could have the detachable magazine, but not with a thumbhole stock. The law made no sense, but who ever accused anti-gun lawmakers of having common sense?
Look for a window, or better yet, before lawmakers levy these (what I believe to be) unconstitutional laws and purchase the guns you want or feel you may need. Secure a supply of 30-round magazines and enough ammo to fill them. Sure, this may be an exercise in panic buying. However, it may also be your last chance (at least for several years) to own an AR-15 or AK-47, and to adequately feed your rifle or pistol with a magazine of sufficient capacity should the wolf come huffing and puffing at your door in the middle of the night.
When it comes to a crisis, it is too late to try and put your seatbelt on before the collision. The same can be said for firearm ownership. If you wait until lawmakers start pressing their boots to your neck, it will be too late. On the other hand, you could defend your home and loved ones with rocks from a slingshot, but I would not recommend it. You can bet that those same lawmakers have armed security protecting them and their loved ones… So why should you be limited?