• Press Release

March For Our Lives Shares Stories from a Grieving Community in Amicus Brief Defending Highland Park’s Assault Weapons Ban Ordinance

The legal challenge to the assault weapons ban, callously filed by the National Association for Gun Rights in the wake of a mass shooting, stands on flimsy legal and moral ground; MFOL’s brief continues our work of bringing the voices of young people and survivors into the court system.

HIGHLAND PARK, IL — Yesterday, March For Our Lives filed an amicus brief in National Association for Gun Rights v. City of Highland Park, IL in the Northern District of Illinois Court to stand with Highland Park survivors in defending their decade-old ordinance ban on assault weapons. Just two months after a shooter used an assault weapon to kill seven people, injured 48, and terrorize the community at Highland Park’s annual Fourth of July parade, extremist gun lobbyists sued the City of Highland Park over its assault weapons ban. This shockingly callous suit shows no concern for the safety of our neighbors in Illinois and shows a callous disregard for the survivors of the attack who bore witness to the devastation that an assault rifle can bring in a matter of mere minutes. March For Our Lives’ amicus brief tells those survivors’ stories to bring them right into the courtroom, where they should not and must not be ignored. 

“This suit is utterly shocking in its disregard for the community’s healing journey, and threatens to puncture a hole into the net of safety tools we have to prevent future tragedies from happening,” said Brynn Jones, a Legal Associate at March For Our Lives who helped craft the brief. “Our courtrooms are not sterile chambers. Our judges have to consider and understand the human impact that assault weapons have, especially in Highland Park, where the community has barely even had a chance to grieve before coming under attack by the extremist gun lobby. 

Since the Supreme Court’s landmark and wrongheaded decision in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, Inc. v. Bruen, establishing unprecedented and nonsensical legal benchmarks for gun safety laws, extremist gun rights groups have relentlessly attacked decades-old laws that are based on centuries of settled constitutional jurisprudence. This case is among the most egregious examples. 

March For Our Lives’ Judicial Advocacy Team, along with the law firm Tabet DiVito & Rothstein LLC, filed the amicus brief on behalf of the Highland Park community and all survivors of gun violence who deserve to live without the fear of being shot and to show the court that our lives are more precious than military-grade assault rifles. These briefs are designed to illustrate the damage of gun violence and force the court to actually consider the lives their decisions impact. The stories of Highland Park shooting survivors do just that, by proving the uniquely damaging impact this case has on the city. 

“I feel absolutely sick to my stomach that someone would have the audacity to challenge this law in court after our entire community was devastated at the July 4th parade,” said Sammi Verhey, a survivor of the Fourth of July shooting and an amicus brief witness. “It would be an utter betrayal to strike this law down—a law created by our own community to keep us safe. Removing this ban would cause severe distress for myself and many other survivors, especially on top of the trauma we’ve already experienced. We deserve to feel safe.”

“Overturning the assault weapons ban has real impacts and can particularly be felt in a place that so recently experienced a horrific and deadly mass shooting,” said Dr. Lamia El-Sadik, the Executive Director at March For Our Lives. “Six times as many people are shot in mass shootings when assault weapons are used, making this ban essential in preventing tragedies like the one just six months ago. Weapons of war have no place on city streets or in the hands of everyday people.”

“I’ve seen the horror of gun violence up close, having lost my brother, Terrell, and my cousin, Vincent,” said Trevon Bosley, a board member of March For Our Lives from Chicago, IL. “I’ve felt the distinct grief that these tragedies bring and the fear of never finding safety again. This case matters to every victim and survivor, and all who have yet to be touched by the brutality of gun violence. An assault weapons ban is more than justified—it’s simply the bare minimum.”