March 1, 2010

Mayor Daley Says Reasonable Gun Laws A Responsible Way To Protect Against Gun Violence

U.S. Supreme Court Will Hear Arguments Tomorrow on Chicago's Ban on Handguns
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A day before the U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments in the gun industry’s challenge to the constitutionality of Chicago’s handgun laws, Mayor Richard M. Daley reiterated that reasonable, local gun laws are a responsible way to protect the nation’s streets, families and children from gun violence.

“The outcome of this case could determine whether or not local governments around the nation have the legal authority to enact reasonable, common sense gun laws to protect their residents,” Daley said during a news conference at Chicago Police Department headquarters, 3510 S. Michigan Ave.

“And depending on the outcome, the case could also affect or open the door to countless – and needless – legal challenges to local and state gun laws across the country,” he said.

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.

The Mayor said that since the post-Civil War days, the rights of cities and states to put such laws in place have been accepted by the nation and the United States Supreme Court, but that now those rights are in jeopardy.

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 all know the unfortunate facts. In one year on average, more than 100,000 people in America are shot or killed with a gun. If reasonable, local gun laws could have prevented even one of these needless deaths, it would have been important. Instead, the violence continues,” Daley said.

He cited several Chicagoans as examples of innocent victims who have lost their lives to gun violence.

  • 16-year-old honor student Blair Holt, who was shot and killed while shielding a friend from gunfire on a public bus.
  • 14-year-old honor student Starkeisha Reed, who was in her home getting ready for school when she was fatally shot by a stray bullet.
  • 15-year-old swimmer Ondolee Perteet, who was shot in the neck after asking some unwanted guests to leave a party and is now living life as quadriplegic.

The Mayor said that in its ongoing efforts to control gun violence, the City has never swayed from its commitment to support the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution.

“At the same time, we have made our case that cities and states should be able to decide for themselves how best to protect their communities. What's at stake in this case for those of us on the front line of protecting our residents is nothing less than the safety of our streets,” Daley said.

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