Ill. top court revives suit on assault weapon ban

By CHRISTOPHER WILLS | April 5, 2012 | 2:05 PM EDT

FILE - In this Jan. 5, 2005 file photo, Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley points to a .50-caliber assault weapon during a news conference in Chicago. The Illinois Supreme Court is scheduled to announce Thursday, April 5, 2012, whether it is constitutional for Cook County officials to ban assault weapons. The county imposed the ban back in 1993. It has been upheld by trial courts and appeals courts. But opponents think their case gained new strength when the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a Chicago ordinance banning handguns. They hope the state's high court will agree and toss out the ban on assault weapons. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green, File)

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — The Illinois Supreme Court says a legal challenge to an assault weapons ban in the Chicago area can proceed even after two lower courts dismissed the case.

The 1993 Cook County ban on the sale or possession of assault weapons has been challenged by three residents who say they need the prohibited weapons for hunting, target shooting and personal protection.

The U.S. Supreme Court last year struck down a Chicago ordinance that essentially banned handguns, saying the Second Amendment establishes a fundamental right to possess a handgun for self-defense.

In Thursday's unanimous ruling, Illinois' top court says a lower court should hear evidence on whether assault weapons get the same Second Amendment protection.

A trial and state appeals court earlier ruled the ban constitutional.