The Illinois Supreme Court has just ruled in the case of Alberto Aguilar v. The People of the State of Illinois. Click here for the brief. Click here to read the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence’s brief arguing that “the carrying of firearms in public places creates serious public safety risks.” Click here for the Illinois Supreme Court’s ruling. As follows: “The principal issue in this case is whether section 24-1.6(a)(1), (a)(3)(A) of the Illinois aggravated unlawful use of weapons (AUUW) statute (720 ILCS 5/24-1.6(a)(1), (a)(3)(A) (West 2008)) violates the right to keep and bear arms, as guaranteed by the second amendment to the United States Constitution (U.S.Const., amend. II). We hold that it does.” In other words, they’ve turfed the law against bearing weapons outside the home. As you’d expect, the court’s decision cites Heller and McDonald Supreme Court rulings and tips its proverbial hat at Moore . . .
As the Seventh Circuit correctly noted, neither Heller nor McDonald expressly limits the second amendment’s protections to the home. On the contrary both decisions contain language strongly suggesting if not outright confirming that the second amendment right to keep and bear arms extends beyond the home. Moreover, if Heller means what it says, and “individual self-defense” is indeed “the central component” of the second amendment right to keep and bear arms (Heller, 554 U.S. at 599), then it would make little sense to restrict that right to the home, as “[c]onfrontations are not limited to the home.” Moore, 702 F.3d at 935-36. Indeed, Heller itself recognizes as much when it states that “the right to have arms *** was by the time of the founding understood to be an individual right protecting against both public and private violence.” (Emphasis added.) Heller, 554 U.S. at 593-94
The only fly in the ointment: the Illinois justices did NOT quash Mr. Aguilar’s conviction for underage possession. Once again, that Heller bit about “reasonable restrictions” has come home to roost.
“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.” Heller, 554 U.S. at 626.
From there, the Court went on to emphasize that “nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.” Id. at 626-27. The Court then immediately added, by way of footnote, that “[w]e identify these presumptively lawful regulatory measures only as examples; our list does not purport to be exhaustive.” Id. at 627 n.26.
Bottom line: it’s legal to prohibit minors from possessing firearms, but not to ban adult Americans from carrying a firearm outside the home—subject to certain provisions. A Pyrrhic victory then? Probably, generally, no. Time will tell.