On Friday, a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit overturned an injunction against Illinois’ “assault weapons” ban in Barnett v. Raoul, with Judges Ronald Reagan appointee Frank Easterbook, Bill Clinton appointee Diane P. Wood, and Donald Trump appointee Michael P.
Brennan comprising the majority decision that AR-15s are not protected by the Second Amendment. The preliminary injunction was issued by U.S. District Judge Stephen P. McGlynn, also a Trump appointee.
In their ruling, Easterbrook and Wood referenced Heller (2008), noting that “[l]ike most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited.”
In their analysis, Easterbrook and Wood drew attention to the Supreme Court’s decision in Heller which established that machine guns are not protected by the Second Amendment due to their exclusive military use.
Furthermore, they highlighted the similarities between AR-15s and M16s, which can be fired in full-auto or three-round burst modes.
The similarity between the AR-15 and the M16 only increases when we take into account how easy it is to modify the AR-15 by adding a “bump stock” (as the shooter in the 2017 Las Vegas event had done) or auto-sear to it, thereby making it, in essence, a fully automatic weapon. In a decision addressing a ban on bump stocks enacted by the Maryland legislature, another federal court found that bump-stock devices enable “rates of fire between 400 to 800 rounds per minute.”
The dissenting opinion of Judge Brennan argued that, under Bruen (2022), the Illinois ban on “assault weapons” fails to meet the established precedent in American tradition.
They further noted that both firearms share the same ammunition and generate identical kinetic energy.
Brennan wrote: “Because the banned firearms and magazines warrant constitutional protection, and the government parties have failed to meet their burden to show that their bans are part of the history and tradition of firearms regulation, preliminary injunctions are justified against enforcement of the challenged laws.”
The case is Barnett v. Raoul, No. 23-1353 in the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.