Mayor Richard M. Daley joined victims, law enforcement officials, mayors, prosecutors and leaders of many groups representing people from across the nation today who support the belief that reasonable, local gun laws are a responsible way to protect city streets, communities, families and children from gun violence.
The constitutionality of the City of Chicago’s ordinance, which prohibits the sale and possession of handguns in the City, has been challenged by the Illinois State Rifle Association and the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments in the case March 2.
“What's at stake in this case for those of us on the front line of protecting our citizens is nothing less than the safety of our streets,” Mayor Daley said during a press conference at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. “Does anyone really believe that the founders of our nation envisioned that guns and illegal weapons would flood our streets and be used to kill our children and average citizens?”
Seventeen friend of the court briefs representing more than 150 individuals and organizations have been filed with the United States Supreme Court in support of the City’s position. They range from local governments to members of Congress to prosecuting attorneys to the American Public Health Association.
“It's to their credit that those who are with us today or those who already publicly support us have put aside politics, risen above strong opposition from the NRA to do what's right for the protection of every American,” said Daley.
Recent surveys show that Americans – including gun owners – support laws that protect the rights of law abiding citizens to purchase guns but also help end the deluge of weapons onto city streets and into communities.
The result of the Court’s decision could determine whether or not local governments across the nation have the legal authority to enact reasonable, common sense gun laws. Depending on its outcome, the case could also open the door to countless – and needless – legal challenges to local and state gun laws across the country.
In one year on average, more than 100,000 people in America are shot or killed with a gun. Last year, 82 percent of Chicago’s homicides were committed with a gun.
“If reasonable, local gun laws could have prevented even one of these needless deaths, it would have been important,” said Daley. “How many more of our children – our brothers and sisters – and our mothers and fathers must unnecessarily die because guns are too easily available in our society?”
Chicago’s ordinance, enacted in 1982, prohibits the sale and possession of handguns in the City. Individuals who legally owned handguns at the time the ordinance was passed were allowed to keep them as long they registered the guns annually with the Chicago Police Department.
There are limited exceptions to this ordinance, including peace officers and members of the military. Any illegal guns confiscated by the Chicago Police Department are destroyed.
Since 1982, Chicago has enacted additional, common-sense gun control legislation, including trigger-lock requirements and ordinances prohibiting automatic and semi-automatic weapons and certain types of ammunition. Long-barreled rifles and shotguns are legal in the City of Chicago, but must also be registered with the Chicago Police Department on an annual basis.
“We believe that Chicago and other cities have the power to enact gun laws that are needed for their local safety and security,” Daley said.
He went on to point out that since the post-Civil War days, the rights of cities and states to put these laws in place have been accepted by our nation and the United States Supreme Court.
“In our ongoing efforts we will never sway from our commitment to support the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution, while at the same time making our case that cities and states should be able to decide for themselves how best to protect their communities.” said Daley.
“This is about whether or not this nation will stand on the side of helping us keep our cities and towns, our streets and neighborhoods, and our citizens safe from the gun violence that is terrorizing our nation.”