Mayors, government and political leaders, law enforcement officials, legal and historical scholars and representatives of public interest groups joined Mayor Richard M. Daley today in a news conference in support of Chicago’s ordinance banning handguns.
The constitutionality of the ordinance has been challenged by the Illinois State Rifle Association and the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments in the case March 2.
“Gun violence across America is a national disgrace. People of all backgrounds and from every part of our nation -- our mothers and fathers, brothers, sisters and children -- needlessly lose their lives because guns are too easily available in our society,” Daley said in a news conference held at the Capital Hilton Hotel, 1001 16th Street, N.W. Washington D.C.
“Today, we stand here on behalf of the people of Chicago and the United States who have been victims of gun violence, on behalf of their families and loved ones and on behalf of all those who believe our strict gun legislation as drafted is constitutional,” the Mayor said. “And as you can see from the representation here today many people agree with us.”
Seventeen friend of the court briefs representing 167 individuals and organizations have been filed 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.
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.
Daley said the issue before the Supreme Court is whether local governments can enact handgun laws and other measures that they believe are needed to keep their communities free from violence.
“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. “Last year, 82 percent of Chicago’s homicides were committed with a gun.”
Daley said many different polls show that people -- including gun owners -- support laws that protect the rights of law abiding citizens to purchase guns but also help end the flood of illegal weapons that kill our children.
He said these laws reflect the decisions of the state and local officials, who have a responsibility to protect public health and safety, and more importantly, the will of the people who elected them.
He said the case before the Supreme Court could affect or open the door to countless -- and needless -- legal challenges to local and state gun laws across the country.
“I want to make it clear that in vast numbers, guns are involved in violent crimes in cities and communities across our nation. Gun violence has become a national epidemic. We need fewer guns on our streets, not more,” the Mayor said.
“Does anyone really believe that the founders of our nation envisioned that illegal weapons would flood our streets and be used to kill our children and people? Of course not.
“As we move toward the hearing date, we will continue to advocate for the rights of cities to regulate guns and to coordinate efforts with other cities that share our position. All of our proposals strive to protect the rights of law abiding citizens, including hunters, to purchase guns,” he said.