On April 5, the Illinois Supreme Court unanimously denied an attempt by Cook County, Ill., to dismiss a challenge to the county's California-style ban on countless types of common semi-automatic firearms. The National Rifle Association supported the case brought by the NRA's state affiliate, the Illinois State Rifle Association.
"We are very pleased with this ruling," said NRA-ILA Executive Director Chris W. Cox. "This decision makes clear that the lower courts shouldn't take challenges to these laws lightly and that plaintiffs deserve a full opportunity for their evidence to be heard."
In the decision, the court reversed a lower appellate court's ruling that upheld the ban merely because it was supposedly similar to bans that had been upheld elsewhere. But of the three cases cited by the lower court, two relied on "facts" provided in legislative findings and testimony by anti-gun legislators and gun ban lobbyists; and the third involved a challenge to federal regulation of fully automatic machine guns, rather than semi-automatic firearms.
Adopting a much more rigorous approach, the Illinois Supreme Court found it couldn't say the guns banned by Cook County "categorically fall outside the scope of the rights protected by the [Second Amendment]." Therefore, the case will be returned to the trial court for more fact-finding.
Key to the final outcome will be evidence that the guns in question are "in common use" and "typically possessed by law-abiding citizens for lawful purposes," which are the standards that the U.S. Supreme Court suggested would determine whether a particular type of "arm" falls within the Second Amendment's protections.
On that issue, the numbers are overwhelming. Based on production statistics published by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, about 3.1 million AR-15 rifles have been made just since 1986, and AR-15s alone made up 4.3 percent of all firearms, and 13.3 percent of all rifles sold in the U.S. from 2007 to 2010. The AR-15, of course, is just one of the many firearms, banned in Cook County. These figures go to show that Cook County hasn't just banned "common" guns; it has banned the most popular rifles of our time, used by countless law-abiding Americans for every kind of lawful purpose.