A U.S. appeals court Monday upheld a Chicago suburb's assault weapons ban that had become a focus in the statewide debate over gun control, though a dissenting judge sharply criticized the majority opinion.
In a 2-to-1 decision, a panel of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago concluded the city of Highland Park's 2013 ban does not violate the Second Amendment, saying municipalities ought to have leeway in deciding how to regulate firearms.
"If a ban on semi-automatic guns and large-capacity magazines reduces the perceived risk from a mass shooting, and makes the public feel safer as a result, that's a substantial benefit," the 12-page majority opinion says.
The legal battle over Highland Park's ordinance drew national players in the gun debate, including a brief filed with the 7th Circuit defending the ban from the Washington, D.C.-based Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, and briefs opposing it filed by weapons manufacturers, including Sig Sauer Inc., and Smith & Wesson Corp.
Monday's decision sets precedent not just for Illinois but for two other states in the judicial circuit — Indiana and Wisconsin. Of Illinois' 1,300 municipalities, no more than a few dozen have regulations or bans similar to Highland Park's.