A Chicago ban on gun sales within the city, aimed at reducing gun violence, is unconstitutional because it goes too far in barring buyers and dealers from engaging in lawful sales, a federal judge ruled on Monday.
U.S. District Judge Edmond E. Chang found that the U.S. Constitution’s protection of the right to keep and bear arms must include the right to acquire them, within limits.
The judge stayed the ruling, however, in order to give the nation’s third-largest city a chance to respond. Chang said the city had until Monday to submit a motion to stay the ruling pending an appeal if it chooses to do so.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel “strongly disagrees” with the court’s decision, according to a statement from the city, adding that he has instructed the city’s lawyer to consider all options to better regulate the sale of firearms within the city’s borders.
“Every year Chicago police recover more illegal guns than officers in any city in the country, a factor of lax federal laws as well as lax laws in Illinois and surrounding states related to straw purchasing and the transfer of guns,” the statement said. “We need stronger gun safety laws, not increased access to firearms within the city.”
Judge Chang is a recent Obama appointee.
* The full opinion is here…
(C)ertain fundamental rights are protected by the Constitution, put outside government’s reach, including the right to keep and bear arms for self-defense under the Second Amendment. This right must also include the right to acquire a firearm, although that acquisition right is far from absolute: there are many long-standing restrictions on who may acquire firearms (for examples, felons and the mentally ill have long been banned) and there are many restrictions on the sales of arms (for example, licensing requirements for commercial sales).
But Chicago’s ordinance goes too far in outright banning legal buyers and legal dealers from engaging in lawful acquisitions and lawful sales of firearms, and at the same time the evidence does not support that the complete ban sufficiently furthers the purposes that the ordinance tries to serve.
The judge was unmoved by the city’s efforts to prove that the gun sale ban disproportionately affected “parochial” gang members who might find it hard to cross rival gang boundaries to travel to the suburbs, where many guns used in crime are currently purchased.
Though nearly all illegally used guns were originally sold by licensed dealers, “guns used in crimes generally pass through several hands before being acquired by the ultimate perpetrator,” the judge wrote.
He suggested that “straw purchasers” who use their clean criminal backgrounds to buy guns for criminals can be tackled by “more focused approaches, such as law enforcement operations that target dealers who would sell to straw purchasers.”
Nothing in his ruling stops Chicago Police from enforcing gun laws, or “prevents the City from considering other regulations — short of the complete ban — on sales and transfers of firearms to minimize the access of criminals to firearms and to track the ownership of firearms,” Chang wrote.
* New York Times…
“The stark reality facing the city each year is thousands of shooting victims and hundreds of murders committed with a gun,” the judge, Edmond E. Chang, of Federal District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, wrote. “But on the other side of this case is another feature of government: certain fundamental rights are protected by the Constitution, put outside government’s reach, including the right to keep and bear arms for self-defense under the Second Amendment.” […]
Several residents and an association of Illinois firearms retailers filed a lawsuit, leading to Judge Chang’s decision. “Chicago’s ordinance goes too far in outright banning legal buyers and legal dealers from engaging in lawful acquisitions and lawful sales of firearms,” the judge wrote, “and at the same time the evidence does not support that the complete ban sufficiently furthers the purposes that the ordinance tries to serve.”
Gun rights advocates said they hoped the ruling would send a message to Chicago and other cities setting similar limits. “Just because people live in Chicago doesn’t mean they’ve given up their rights,” said Richard Pearson, the executive director of the Illinois State Rifle Association. Even with Chicago’s ban on sales, officials have long complained about the patchwork of laws that allowed guns to be obtained in neighboring states and suburbs.
Mark Walsh, campaign director for the Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence, said the financially powerful NRA has systematically fought to water down gun laws in Illinois and across the country.
“That’s the NRA’s game plan. They keep filing suits and filing suits to chip away laws and get to their ultimate goal of a complete armed citizenry,” he said.
Though the 7th Circuit Court has ruled favorably for the NRA in recent cases in Chicago and Illinois, Walsh said other federal appellate courts have not followed suit.
“All too often the narrative is that the NRA is this monolithic machine that is winning everywhere, but that really isn’t the case,” he said. “There has been the fear mongering by the NRA and gun manufacturers, but it does not necessarily translate.
About 4,500 requests for concealed carry permits were submitted the first day Illinois’ online application system was open to the public, officials said Monday.
The applications submitted Sunday during the system’s first 24 hours of operation brought the total permit requests to more than 11,000, said Monique Bond, a spokeswoman for the Illinois State Police. The other 6,500 applications came in recent weeks, as the state allowed firearms instructors to apply for permits early in order to help test the online application system. Detailed information on what areas of the state saw the most applicants wasn’t yet available, Bond said.
“Right now we’re pleased with the ease of the process so far,” she said. Bond called the number of applicants a “pretty healthy number.”