Easterday v. Village of Deerfield: Defending local authority to enact effective gun safety regulations.
Case Information: Easterday, et al. v. Village of Deerfield, Ill., No. 126849 (Ill. amicus brief filed June 23, 2021)
At Issue: Home rule jurisdictions in Illinois derive their power directly from the state constitution, which empowers those jurisdictions to regulate for the protection of public health and safety. In the wake of the 2018 mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida, the Village of Deerfield used its broad home rule authority to strengthen local firearm regulations by implementing an assault weapons ban to protect its citizens from similar mass shootings. Plaintiffs sought to have the local gun safety regulation struck down under Illinois’s preemption law, but the Illinois intermediate appellate court upheld Deerfield’s regulation. Plaintiffs appealed to the Illinois Supreme Court.
Our Brief: In a brief filed jointly with Everytown Law and the Gun Violence Prevention Action Committee, we argue that the Village of Deerfield acted within its broad home rule authority to enact a local gun safety regulation. That conclusion is consistent with the intermediate appellate court’s holding, finding in Deerfield’s favor. In enacting the current state constitution, Illinois lawmakers clearly expressed their intention to give local jurisdictions broad regulatory authority, and created a statewide presumption in favor of home rule authority. Local regulation to promote gun safety plainly falls well within the broad constitutional grant of home rule authority to protect public health, safety, morals and welfare. Moreover, the constitutional delegates explicitly contemplated that Illinois’ presumption in favor of home rule authority would apply in the context of local firearm regulations. Even broad firearm regulations have been upheld based in part on theories of home rule authority. Finally, Deerfield’s chosen solution to protect its residents from gun violence—an assault weapons ban—has been empirically shown to significantly reduce mass shooting fatalities.