The US Supreme Court has rejected a challenge by gun-rights activists to a Chicago suburb’s ordinance banning assault weapons and large-capacity magazines.
The 2013 ordinance passed by the city of Highland Park, Illinois will remain in place.
By opting not to hear an appeal of a lower-court ruling that upheld the measure, the justices on Monday declined to take up what would have been a high-profile gun-rights case following a succession of mass shootings, including one last week in San Bernardino, California.
The Highland Park measure bans various semi-automatic weapons, including well-known guns such as the AR-15 and AK-47, in addition to magazines holding more than 10 rounds of bullets.
Two conservatives on the nine-member court, Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia, said the justices should have taken the case.
Thomas wrote a six-page dissent in which he said that, despite recent pro-gun rights rulings by the conservative-leaning high court, several lower courts “have upheld categorical bans on firearms that millions of Americans commonly own for lawful purposes”.
The US Constitution’s Second Amendment guarantees the right to bear arms, but there is a longstanding legal debate over its scope.
Semi-automatic rifles are popular, with the vast majority of owners using them for lawful purposes, Thomas said
‘Under our precedents, that is all that is needed for citizens to have a right under the Second Amendment to keep such weapons,’ he said.
Stephen Elrod, a lawyer for Highland Park, said the ordinance in the affluent suburb north of Chicago was specifically crafted to ban only “unusual and dangerous” firearms.
‘The Second Amendment is not unlimited. The Supreme Court recognises that there are certain categories of guns that do not fall within the protections of the Second Amendment,’ Elrod said.