Federal judge’s ruling against California gun ban could impact Illinois case

(The Center Square) – Plaintiffs challenging Illinois’ gun ban hope a ruling out of a California federal court plays a role in the potential outcome in Illinois.

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker has justified the state’s gun and magazine ban he enacted earlier this year by pointing to several other states with similar bans. However, on Thursday, a federal judge out of California struck down that state’s ban on certain semi-automatic firearms with a permanent injunction.

Among other issues laid out in his 79-page ruling, the judge rejected California’s argument that actual use in self-defense shootings is the relevant metric of “common use,” a similar argument Illinois is making in defending the Land of Lincoln’s gun ban.

“An AR-15 under one’s bed at night is being used for self-defense even when the night is quiet,” Judge Roger T. Benitez wrote.

Benitez gave California 10 days to secure a stay from an appeals court on his permanent injunction before it goes into effect. California appealed to the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals late Thursday.

Second Amendment Foundation founder Alan Gottlieb is a plaintiff in California and in Illinois, where a case is pending in the Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals.

“We already won at a lower court level in Illinois on this issue already,” Gottlieb said.

In late April, Southern District of Illinois federal Judge Stephen McGlynn issued a preliminary injunction against Illinois’ gun and magazine ban on Second Amendment grounds. That injunction was stayed by the appeals court with a formal ruling still pending.

“So, is it going to affect the appeal, but again, if it’s illegal and unconstitutional in California, it’s also illegal and unconstitutional in Illinois as well,” Gottlieb told The Center Square. “This strengthens our Illinois challenge.”

Plaintiffs Friday filed with the Illinois appeals court to take note of the California decision.

“That ruling comports with the District Court ruling in Caleb Barnett, et al. and may be of considerable persuasive value to this court,” attorney C.D. Michel said in a filing to the Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on behalf of plaintiffs. “More importantly, and as Plaintiffs have argued in this case, dramatic leaps in firearm technology did happen in the 19th century, but they were never banned.”

After Thursday’s ruling, California Gov. Gavin Newsom said the judge is partisan and the decision reinforces the need for a constitutional amendment.

“Today, a right-wing, NRA puppet – Judge Roger Benitez – tried to strip away CA’s three-decade-old assault weapon ban – comparing an assault rifle to a knife,” Newsom posted on X, formerly known as Twitter. “An absolute disgrace. This is exactly why America needs a constitutional amendment to enshrine commonsense gun safety reforms. Until then, extremist judges will continue to tear down the will of the American people.”

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker has said there’s a “better than 30%” chance Illinois’ gun and magazine ban survives in the federal courts and pushed for new justices on the U.S. Supreme Court.

“Where is this all going? We need to make sure that people are appointed to the Supreme Court who are going to do the right thing,” Pritzker said.

Gottlieb said it’s the governors supporting bans of commonly owned firearms who are extreme.

“Well, these judges aren’t radical. Politicians like Gavin Newsom and Pritzker, they’re the radicals and the proof of it is that they want to pass a new amendment to the Constitution to eradicate the Second Amendment and take away people’s gun rights,” Gottlieb said. “That is what is dangerous and unusual and radical.”

It’s unclear when the Seventh Circuit will issue its ruling on Illinois’ gun ban. The court heard the case in late June.

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