Can public opinion require you to buy a gun? We can make that claim sound nicer and call it community standards instead of public opinion. Two federal judges said we can deny or demand firearm ownership. The judges allowed a city ordinance in Illinois to ban the ownership of modern rifles. It also bans ammunition magazines that hold than 10 cartridges. According to the judges, the city of Highland Park, Illinois passed an ordinance that is simply a regulation of the right to keep and bear arms in the home rather than an infringement on the right.

In practical terms, two judges allowed politicians to pander to their gun-ban donors as they legislated for headlines. Legal scholars will take apart the Friedman v. Highland Park decision and show where it is wrong. In the mean time, let’s see what happens if the judges decision stands. The judges said a city may limit firearms ownership. The same ruling could also allow a city to require firearms ownership.

Let’s start with what the judges said in their decision. They said the Illinois firearms restrictions probably won’t work. That is a good bet since these restrictions won’t slow down criminals getting firearms any more than the previous 23 thousand firearms regulations already in place. Quoting the judge’s decision,

“A ban on assault weapons won’t eliminate gun violence in Highland Park, but it may reduce overall dangerousness of crime that does occur ….”

The judges allowed the city ordinance to stand even though the restrictions on armed self-defense are real while the possible benefits are theoretical. Any excuse will do when an Illinois politician wants to restricts firearms ownership.

There is more, and this is where the judge’s decision gets interesting. The judges said this real infringement on self-defense was justified simply because the public likes it.

“(if the city ordinance) has no other effect, Highland Park’s ordinance may increase the public’s sense of safety… If a ban on semiautomatic guns and large-capacity magazines reduces the perceived risk from a mass shooting, and makes the public feel safer as a result, that’s a substantial benefit.”

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