The Village of Oak Park may end up paying thousands of dollars in legal fees to the National Rifle Association, based on a judge's recent ruling.
The decision dates back to last June, when the Supreme Court struck down Oak Park and the city of Chicago's bans on handguns. The NRA had filed suit a couple of years earlier, looking to kill handgun restrictions in several communities. Chicago and Oak Park were the only municipalities which chose to fight the NRA in court, and ended up losing last summer.
Last Thursday, the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the NRA has the right to recover its attorney fees from Oak Park and Chicago, overturning a previous court decision.
"The National Rifle Association and the Second Amendment prevailed against those who sought to deny the right to keep and bear arms in Chicago and Oak Park," Chris W. Cox, executive director for the NRA's legislative branch, said in a press release. "The attempt to avoid paying the NRA's attorneys' fees was rightly found to be unjust by the court."
Village Attorney Ray Heise and Manager Tom Barwin said Monday that they had not yet had a chance to look at the ruling, and would hold off in responding. Village President David Pope, too, had not seen the ruling on Monday, but he heard that the case would be sent to a lower court to determine the exact amount of the legal fees.
"I think we're all in a sort of wait-and-see mode," Pope said.
After the Supreme Court declared Oak Park's 26-year handgun ban unconstitutional last year, Oak Park responded by tweaking its gun rules. Changes included allowing people to carry a firearm in their place of business or home, though keeping it illegal to carry an assault weapon or any gun in a vehicle.
The NRA took a swipe at those prevailing gun restrictions last week.
"While we are grateful to recover our attorneys' fees, however, we remain steadfast in our belief that Chicago and Oak Park continue to circumvent the law of the land and deny their law-abiding residents the Second Amendment freedoms protected by the Constitution," Cox said in the press release. "We will continue to fight those efforts until the Second Amendment is fully respected."
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