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Illinois Supreme Court Upholds Assault Weapons Ban In Deerfield

DEERFIELD, Ill. (CBS) -- The Illinois Supreme Court on Thursday upheld an ordinance in north suburban Deerfield that bans assault weapons.

The ordinance was passed in 2018, but did not go into effect until Dec. 7, 2020, when the Illinois Appellate Court reversed a ruling by a Lake County Circuit Court judge that blocked the ordinance/a>.

After the ordinance was passed in 2018, the National Rifle Association teamed up with lawyers representing a Deerfield gun owner John William Wombacher III and firearm rights group Guns Save Life to prevent it from going into effect.

Village attorneys had argued the ordinance merely amended a 2013 ordinance that regulates the storage of assault weapons. They said the new ordinance was a response to the concerns of residents that arose in the wake of recent mass shootings at the time - in particular the mass shooting that killed 17 people at a high school in Parkland, Florida.

The plaintiffs fighting the ordinance did not challenge its validity or constitutionality under the Second Amendment, but rather questioned the village's authority to enact such an ordinance under Illinois state home rule provisions.

However, opponents of the ordinance did say back in 2018 that it violated the Second Amendment, as well as a provision of the Illinois Constitution protecting private property from seizure without "just compensation."

The Supreme Court ruling was a 3-3 tie, with one justice recusing himself. The village said this effectively affirms the earlier Second District Illinois Appellate Court ruling and allows it to stand.

"We have been confident all along that the Deerfield ordinance would be upheld by the Courts. The Second District Appellate Court decision entered last December provided a strong affirmation of our ordinance," Village Attorney Steven Elrod said in a news release. "We are pleased that the Second District opinion will stand, and that our ordinance has been validated."

U.S. Rep. Brad Schneider (D-Illinois) tweeted in support of the Supreme Court ruling Thursday.

"I'm proud of communities like (Deerfield) that have stepped forward to say enough is enough. I don't believe that military-style assault weapons belong on our streets, and I am proud that the Illinois Supreme Court today upheld Deerfield's ordinance banning assault weapons," he tweeted.

The village will continue to enforce the ordinance consistently with other local ordinances – first through education and voluntary compliance. A police officer may also issue a citation for violating the ordinance.

Any other enforcement – including search and seizure – must comply with state and federal law, the village said.

The Village of Deerfield does not plan to have police officers to go door-to-door to ensure compliance.

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