Letter: High court sees exceptions for 'unusual' weapons

The lawsuits have started, challenging Illinois' assault weapons and high-capacity magazines ban. That of course is disturbing, but not unexpected.

The challengers keep referring to the Bruin case decided last year by the U.S. Supreme Court. Their reliance may well be misplaced, based on comments by justices who concurred in that decision.

Justice Alito wrote a concurrence. He stressed that the court only decided the narrow issue about carry permits. Other issues were not decided:

"Our holding decides nothing about who may lawfully possess a firearm or the requirements that must be met to buy a gun. Nor does it decide anything about the kinds of weapons that people may possess. Nor have we disturbed anything that we said in Heller or McDonald v. Chicago (2010), about restrictions that may be imposed on the possession or carrying of guns."

He made clear that his opinion in McDonald stands, including the analysis about "long-standing prohibitions" and "dangerous and unusual weapons."

Justice Kavanaugh's concurrence, which was joined by Chief Justice Roberts, stated:

"Like most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited. From Blackstone through the 19th-century cases, commentators and courts routinely explained that the right was not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose ...

"We also recognize another important limitation on the right to keep and carry arms. Miller said, as we have explained, that the sorts of weapons protected were those in common use at the time. We think that limitation is fairly supported by the historical tradition of prohibiting the carrying of dangerous and unusual weapons."

I am hopeful that the law passed by the general Assembly and signed by the governor will be upheld and I know our Attorney General will vigorously defend the law.

Elliott Hartstein


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