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Supreme Court Won't Hear Challenge To Chicago Suburb's Assault Weapons Ban

The Supreme Court has declined to hear a challenge from gun owners over a Chicago suburb's ban on the sale or possession of semiautomatic weapons.

NPR's Nina Totenberg filed this report for our Newscast unit on the ban in Highland Park, Ill.:

"The high court left in place a lower court decision that upheld a local ordinance enacted in the Chicago suburbs in 2013. The law prohibited the possession of what it called assault weapons, including AR-15s, and AK-47s, and it banned large capacity magazines that can accept more than 10 rounds.

"The justices' decision not to reconsider the lower court ruling continues a pattern. In 2008, the justices ruled for the first time that the Second Amendment protects the right to own a gun for self-defense in the home. But the 5-to-4 decision appeared to leave government at all levels wide latitude to regulate gun ownership and possession."

Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas diagreed with the decision not to hear the case.

"Roughly five million Americans own AR-style semiautomatic rifles," Thomas wrote. "The overwhelming majority of citizens who own and use such rifles do so for lawful purposes, including self-defense and target shooting. Under our precedents, that is all that is needed for citizens to have a right under the Second Amendment to keep such weapons."

The court's decision to allow the Highland Park ordinance to stand comes in the aftermath of several mass shootings that involving assault-style weapons, most recently the attack in San Bernardino, Calif. In his Oval Office address on Sunday, President Obama called for legislation strengthening controls over the sale of such weapons.

"I know there are some who reject any gun-safety measures, but the fact is that our intelligence and law-enforcement agencies, no matter how effective they are, cannot identify every would-be mass shooter, whether that individual was motivated by ISIL or some other hateful ideology," the president said. "What we can do, and must do, is make it harder for them to kill."

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