Local WSIU
6:49 pm
Wed January 18, 2012

Cook County Assault Weapon Ban Hits Illinois Supreme Court

Springfield, IL – Since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Washington, D.C.'s handgun ban in 2008, gun enthusiasts have been challenging similar laws around the country. The Illinois Supreme Court heard arguments Wednesday on Cook County's assault weapons ban.

The parties can't even agree on terminology. The three men suing Cook County say the term "assault weapon" is pejorative.

Their lawyer, Stephen Halbrook, says the ban includes guns commonly used for hunting, target shooting and self-defense.

"The county makes a lot of arguments about, you know, 'these guns are for killing a lot of people quickly' and all these - this is all political rhetoric. You can go to any shooting range in this very state, or anywhere in the country, and you'll see these kinds of firearms."

The county says even though the banned firearms may be popular, government can balance the rights of gun owners with the need for public safety. Paul Castiglione is an assistant state's attorney.

"I think the key point here is there's not a fundamental right to the weapon of one's choice."

The Supreme Court could overturn Cook County's ban.

But because of legal technicalities, they may instead decide to dismiss the case or send it back to a lower court.