June 28, 2010

Mayor Daley Says City Will Move Quickly To Propose New Gun Ordinance To Address Supreme Court Ruling

Mayor Daley speaks at a press conference in City Hall
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Mayor Richard M. Daley said he is disappointed but not surprised at today’s ruling by the United States Supreme Court that essentially makes Chicago’s prohibition on registering handguns unenforceable. 

“Across the country, cities are struggling with how to address this issue. Common sense tells you we need fewer guns on the street, not more guns,” Daley said in a City Hall news conference.
 
“So, we're working to rewrite our ordinance in a reasonable and responsible way to protect 2nd amendment rights and protect Chicagoans from gun violence.
We’ll publicly propose our new ordinance soon,” he said.
 
Today, in a 5-4 decision, the United States Supreme Court ruled that the Second Amendment of the Constitution applies to state and local governments, as well as the federal government.
 
However, the Supreme Court did not strike down any part of the City’s ordinance. 
 
The Court reversed the lower court decision upholding Chicago’s handgun ban but remanded the case to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals for further proceedings.
 
Technically, this means that Chicago’s current ordinance, which does not allow the registration--and consequently the ownership--of handguns, is still in effect until the 7th Circuit invalidates it.
 
However, as a practical matter, it is clear that such a provision will ultimately be struck down based on the Supreme Court’s decision in the Heller case in which the Court ruled that Washington D.C.’s handgun ban violated the Second Amendment.

Daley said the City has already gathered opinions from many sources about how the new ordinance might be revised, including reviewing the ordinances and laws that are in place in Washington, D.C., New York, Los Angeles and other cities and states.

On June 18, a City Council Committee conducted a hearing which addressed many of the issues and challenges Chicago faces in crafting a new city ordinance.
 
During the hearing, many experts and members of the community testified that if handguns are now going to be allowed in homes, the City needs to put in place the strictest laws possible with regard to who is eligible to own a gun.
 
Daley reminded residents that even though today’s decision for practical purposes renders the prohibition on registering handguns unenforceable, many other city and state regulations remain in place.
 
He said that it remains illegal:
 
  • To carry a concealed weapon in the State of Illinois;
  • To possess a gun in the City of Chicago that is not registered with the Chicago Police Department;
  • To possess a gun without first obtaining a Firearm Owner’s Identification Card from the State;
  • To transport any kind of gun in a vehicle in Chicago if the gun is not broken down into a non-functioning state; or,
  •  To possess a semi-automatic or automatic assault weapon, laser sight accessories and silencers.
 
In addition, all registrants must keep their firearms unloaded and disassembled or bound by a trigger lock or similar device, unless the firearm is in the registrant’s possession at his place of residence or business or while being used for lawful recreational purposes within the City of Chicago. 
 
Daley also addressed his deep concern about some language in the Supreme Court’s decision today.
 
“To suggest that Chicago's elected officials haven't done enough to protect our city's residents shows many of our highest level officials don't understand that gun violence pervades America, not just Chicago,” he said.
 
“When it comes to Chicago, the Court has ignored all that's been done over the last decade to dramatically lower our homicide and violent crime rates.
 
“They've ignored that thousands of people -- from every neighborhood and background -- have joined with their elected officials and ministers in marches to protect our children to end the gun violence.
“They don't reflect that the Chicago Police Department has constantly worked to create new strategies in our most challenged neighborhoods to end the violence. This is one reason why homicides and violent crimes have been dramatically reduced over the last decade. I know it doesn’t feel that way, because one child killed is too many.
 
“At the same time -- and this is just as important -- they don't seem to appreciate the full scope of gun violence in America and that it will continue until we understand that there are reasonable and responsible steps we can take as a nation to help end the needless gun violence and harm that irresponsible people bring on our friends and family,” he said.
 
The Mayor emphasized that despite the Court’s ruling, he is more determined than ever to continue Chicago's and the nation's fight against gun violence in all its forms, including handguns.
 
“Gun violence is not just a Chicago problem, it is an American problem. And, it will continue until we understand that there are reasonable and responsible steps we can take as a nation to help end the needless gun violence that irresponsible people bring on our friends and family,” Daley said.
 
He said that:
  • On average in one year, more than 100,000 people in America are shot or killed with a gun
  • Each day in America, more than 80 people die from guns and another 200 are wounded.
  • Every year in the United States more than 3,000 children and teens are killed by guns.

 "What is the impact of this violence?" Daley asked. "Mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, our children and our friends -- killed or injured by guns. Homes broken apart, dreams ended. All of it needless."

 “I also want the people of Chicago to understand that even as we rewrite Chicago's handgun ordinance, we will continue to pursue every avenue that reduces the chance of violence involving a handgun or any other weapon in Chicago,” he said. 

 The Mayor said that includes working to re-enact the federal ban on assault weapons,  pursuing a crackdown on gun shops and their owners, looking for new ways to challenge gun manufacturers, including how they market to young people and continuing efforts to close the “gun show loophole” at the federal level.

“For the safety of our city and on behalf of those who have lost friends and loved ones to gun violence, I will never give up or give in to those who harm others with guns,” he said.

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