On August 11, 2023, the Illinois Supreme Court issued a decision in Caulkins v. Pritzker, one of the lawsuits challenging Illinois’ ban on “assault weapons” and large capacity magazines, as codified in the Protect Illinois Communities Act (“PICU”). Although the court upheld the PICU, plaintiffs had originally challenged it only on state law grounds. Specifically, the court held that the PICU did not violate plaintiffs’ rights to equal protection under the Illinois Constitution. The court also held that the enactment of PICU did not violate the “three readings” requirement, a procedural issue under the Illinois Constitution. The court specifically declined to address a challenge that the PICU violated the Second Amendment because plaintiffs did not originally raise such a challenge. Plaintiffs attempted to raise a Second Amendment challenge for the first time on appeal, but the court held that any such claim was waived and declined to consider it on the merits.
Although the Illinois Supreme Court did not address the issue of whether the PICU violates the Second Amendment, there are several cases arguing that it violates the Second Amendment pending in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. These cases, which have been consolidated, include Barnett v. Raoul (23-1825), Harrel v. Raoul, Federal Firearms Licensees of Illinois v. Pritzker, Langley v. Kelly, Herrera v. Raoul, and Bevis v. City of Naperville. Oral argument in these consolidated cases was held on June 29, 2023, and a decision should be issued by this federal appeals court in the next few months.
Despite the Illinois Supreme Court’s decision in Caulkins, the Seventh Circuit may still issue a decision holding that Illinois’ “assault weapons” and large capacity magazine bans violate the Second Amendment. Such a ruling would void those aspects of the PICU, although there is a potential that the court could stay such a decision pending a request for hearing en banc (by the entire court of appeals), or a petition for a writ of certiorari to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Renzulli Law Firm will continue to monitor Barnett v. Raoul and the consolidated cases challenging the PICU in the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. If you have any questions concerning the PICU or the Illinois ban on “assault weapons” and large capacity magazines, please contact John F.Renzulli or Christopher Renzulli.