Trial on merits of Illinois’ gun ban could begin July 8, attorney says

(The Center Square) – A plaintiff’s attorney suing Illinois over the state’s gun and magazine ban expects the case to go to trial on the merits in July.

Illinois enacted a ban on more than 170 semi-automatic firearms, attachments and magazines over certain capacities in January 2023. Shortly after, lawsuits were filed alleging the ban violated the U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment.

One consolidated case in the Southern District of Illinois in April 2023 sided with the plaintiffs seeking a preliminary injunction while the case played out. That suspension of the law went up to the appeals court. The Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals issued a stay six days later, reversing the preliminary injunction, saying the state had a likelihood of advancing on the merits.

After the appeals court mandate in the case was issued, Southern District of Illinois federal Judge Stephen McGlynn told litigants it was time to address the merits of the case.

Thursday, litigants for the plaintiffs groups and the state met with McGlynn for a status and scheduling conference. Attorney Thomas Maag, who represents the Langley plaintiffs in the case, was there.

“The judge indicated that he has marked off July 8 as the presumptive trial date in this case,” Maag told The Center Square, noting that date hasn’t yet been ordered as the start of the trial. “When a judge says he’s got something marked on his calendar, that’s a pretty good indication of what he’s thinking.”

Among the announced deadlines includes any expert reports. Those are due by May 10 with another status hearing for May 15.

Maag said the plaintiffs’ experts are ready to deal with the issues at hand.

“The real point of these experts is to explain self-defense scenarios, how these firearms are useful for self defense, mechanically how they function, historical norms, historical examples,” he said.

The state argues it needs to ban certain weapons for public safety, calling the banned firearms “assault weapons” and “weapons of war.” 

One issue the state raised in its defense is that semi-automatic firearms like AR-15s can fire hundreds and hundreds of rounds in a minute. Maag said that’s “frankly outlandish.”

“Even an M-16, fully automatic, cannot fire that rate of fire without literally melting itself and that would assume an unlimited magazine capacity, which of course doesn’t exist,” Maag said.

Plaintiffs allege the ban violates the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.

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