A decision issued Monday by the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals allowed a Illinois gun ban to stand. According to the Seventh Circuit Court, such bans are constitutional on the basis that they “may increase the public’s sense of safety”.
The case in question, Friedman v. Highland Park, was brought in 2013, it sought to overturn a city ordinance that banned “assault weapons or large capacity magazines (magazines that can hold more than 10 rounds).”
After a slew of circuit court opinions that upheld the individual right to bear arms, it is no surprise that this ruling comes from one of America’s progressive bastions. Even less surprising is the lack of an actual argument on behalf of the majority.
Highland Park, a Chicago suburb, is one of several cities in the area that quickly passed ordinances that regulated or banned the possession of “assault weapons” before the state legislature preempted home-rule authority to do so.
In a 2-1 decision, the three judge Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the ordinance. The majority opinion claims:
“A ban on assault weapons won’t eliminate gun violence in Highland Park, but it may reduce overall dangerousness of crime that does occur ….”
The majority’s opinion is simply amazing; they would rather the public have a false sense of security than the ability to defend themselves with a firearm considered “too dangerous”. The court seems to have forgotten that the Second Amendment is not subject to public opinion polls on perceived threats.
The unruly court did not stop there, remarkably the opinion went on to state that even if the ban had no beneficial effect on safety, it could still be justified by the false sense of security that is provides to residents. “If it has no other effect…Highland Park’s ordinance may increase the public’s sense of safety. Mass shootings are rare, but they are highly salient, and people tend to overestimate the likelihood of salient events”, the majority wrote.
“If a ban on semiautomatic 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 opinion argued.
Beyond amazing is the fact that the court defended the ordinance’s inability to protect the public, offering that the ordinance serves the public because the firearms in question are perceived to be a threat; the court did so without even offering an argument as to how much of a threat “assault weapons” truly are.
Judge Daniel Anthony Manion dissented from the majority opinion. He persuasively argued that the ruling is “at odds with the central holdings in Heller and McDonald: that the Second Amendment protects a personal right to keep and bear arms for lawful purposes, most notably for self-defense within the home.”
“The government recognizes these rights; it does not confer them”
Judge Manion recognized the individual right to keep and bear arms, and for that he should be commended. His reminder that the government “recognizes [constitutional] rights; it does not confer them” points out a serious flaw in the majority’s baseless opinion.