Yesterday, Illinois Solicitor General Jane Elinor Notz filed a brief with the Supreme Court, defending the Illinois assault weapons ban. Much of the brief is about law and procedure, which I’m not knowledgeable enough to address. But think I can shed some light on one tiny piece of Notz’s brief:
The instruments regulated by the Act are best suited for offensive combat: their defining characteristics are unnecessary (and often counterproductive) for self defense, with the result that handguns and shotguns are preferred for self-defense scenarios.
This is brazen misdirection. Maybe even a pack of lies.
The Act in question is the Protect Illinois Communities Act (PICA) of 2023, and many of the characteristics of rifles that it outlaws — pistol grips, forward grips, adjustable stocks, barrel shrouds — are things that would make a rifle ergonomically easier to use, which obviously makes it more effective for self-defense.
(The Act also calls out and names a whole bunch of guns which are banned as de jure assault weapons, regardless of what features they have. It’s hard to argue with the justification for this, since Notz offers no justification for this.)
Furthermore, Notz’s argument that PICA outlaws certain rifles because handguns and shotguns are better for self-defense would make sense if PICA was only about rifles. But PICA also restricts handguns and shotguns. And again, many of the features listed are the kinds of improvements that would help with self defense:
On pistols, the Act forbids forward grips, barrel shrouds, and any feature which could be used to fire the gun from the shoulder position, all of which make the gun easier to handle for more accurate fire, which is obviously helpful for a self-defense situation where there may be innocent people around. The act also bans flash suppressors, which reduce the risk of being dazzled by your own gunfire, and threaded barrels, which could be used to attach a recoil compensator, which would make the gun more controllable and therefore safer.
(Threaded barrels could be used to attach a suppressor (a.k.a. “silencer”), but of course suppressors are already illegal in Illinois. And come to think of it, a suppressor is an excellent feature for self defense, because it would protect the hearing of both the shooter and their family members during a gunfight.)
As for shotguns, the Act bans forward grips, thumbhole stocks, and folding stocks, all features that would make a shotgun more ergonomic and therefore easier and safer to use for self-defense.
Furthermore, for all three types of weapons — pistols, shotguns, and rifles — PICA bans large magazines, defined as more than 15 for a pistol, 10 for a rifle, or five for a shotgun. Obviously, all other things being equal, the more shots you can fire in a gunfight, the better your chances of willing. Notz cites research indicating that most self defense shootings use only a few bullets, but that doesn’t mean that every instance of self-defense uses only a few bullets, and certainly running out of ammunition in a self-defense scenario is one of the worst possible things that could happen.
Gun owners have long complained about gun control laws based on a poor understanding of guns, and this is yet another example. It’s hard to come up with a logical justification for banning assault weapons when your definition of “assault weapon” is so stupid.
Steve Witherspoon says
Very good and informative post, I only have one quibble.
Mark wrote, “Gun owners have long complained about gun control laws based on a poor understanding of guns…”
I think writing “…based on a poor understanding of guns” in this context is a gross understatement, these anti-gun advocates have a verifiable repetitive pattern of blatant lies and intentional misinformation that are specifically used to target and trigger the emotions of gullible and ignorant people. What they are doing is unethical, anti-Constitution, and I believe immoral.
These anti-firearm activists what to severely limit or intentionally infringe on the Constitutional rights of the ALL OF THE RESPONSIBLE FIREARM OWNERS that own 99.999852% of firearms because 0.000148% (2016 statistic that’s statistically indistinguishable from zero) of firearms are criminally misused, this is pure tyrannical hysteria!
Mark Draughn says
I think you’re probably right. A lot of anti-gun agitation is based on ideas about guns that are just plain wrong, and it’s hard to believe that this is unintentional when they repeat the same falsehoods over and over. I well remember the panic over “plastic guns,” the first polymer guns from Glock, which were demonized as being able to pass through metal detectors at airports. That wasn’t at all true, but people kept saying it. Same for “cop killer” Teflon bullets that supposedly penetrated cop body armor. And it used to be that handguns were evil, and gun owners should just buy rifles, but here’s a gun ban that attacks rifles while its defenders talk about the virtues of handguns…
That said, I hesitate to call everyone who repeats these falsehoods a liar, because I’m sure a lot of decent people have been tricked by the liars and are repeating the falsehoods with good intentions.