U.S. District Court Upholds Cook County’s Assault Weapon Ban

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle hailed a U.S. District Court ruling upholding the County’s ordinance banning specific types of assault weapons.

U.S. District Judge Manish S. Shah last week granted the County’s motion to dismiss a challenge to its assault weapons ban filed by plaintiffs Matthew D. Wilson and Troy Edhlund.

The County’s ordinance, an amendment to the Cook County Deadly Weapons Dealer Control ordinance, defines “assault weapons,” and makes it a crime for any person to “manufacture, sell, offer or display for sale, give, lend, transfer ownership of, acquire or possess any assault weapon or large capacity magazine.”

“We must do what we can to stem the tide of gun violence and keep weapons with high levels of destructive capability out of circulation,” President Preckwinkle said. “Our ordinance is the kind of common sense gun legislation we need. It is a responsible and meaningful law aimed at protecting our residents and our law enforcement officers.”

Any person found in violation of the ordinance is subject to a fine of between $1,000 and $5,000. A subsequent violation of the ordinance could bring a fine of up to $10,000. Individuals found in violation may still be sentenced for a jail term of up to six months.

The ordinance exempts any firearm that has been made permanently inoperable or is an “antique firearm,” or weapons designed specifically for Olympic target shooting events.

In their challenge, the plaintiff’s alleged that the ban strikes at the heart of the Second Amendment. The judge, however, wrote, “The Second Amendment does not guarantee a private right to possess a type of weapon (such as a machine gun or a sawed-off shotgun) that the government would not expect citizens to bring with them when called to serve in the militia.”

The assault weapons ban applies to all municipalities in Cook County unless a municipality has its own law on the books.