The US Supreme Court has decided not to take up a challenge to an assault weapons ban in the Chicago suburb of Highland Park, Ill., effectively leaving similar bans intact in New York, New Jersey, California, Maryland, and a handful of other states.
Justices Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia opposed the majority’s decision, saying the ban “flouts” the Supreme Court’s previous rulings on what rights the second amendment affords US citizens.
Highland Park officials voted in 2013 to ban semiautomatic weapons with large-capacity magazines. The ordinance in the affluent suburb came at a time when the state of Illinois was preparing to pass a law that allowed legal gun owners to carry concealed firearms—but it was allowed through a condition that allowed cities to maintain their home rule.
An appeals court ruling on a legal challenge to the measure determined that the Highland Park ban was justified, and did not violate constitutional rights. In not reviewing the case, the Supreme Court has maintained a seven-year streak of opting out of the debate over the scope of gun-ownership rights—although the New York Times points out that today’s decision could be read as “at least tacit approval” from the Supreme Court of stricter gun control laws at the local level.
The Supreme Court’s inaction today comes as the debate on gun control seems to come to a head in the US—last night (Dec. 6), US president Barack Obama called on Americans to “make it harder for people to buy powerful assault weapons” in the wake of mass shootings like the one this month in San Bernardino, California.