City to revamp gun-control ordinance after loss in court
BY FRANK MAIN Staff Reporterfirstname.lastname@example.org June 24, 2012 5:50PM
Libertyville- The shop deals with high end Kimber handguns. JTG Just Target Guns is a shotgun shop that has on site gunsmith services. Current owners Lane Lebrun, Rick Komperda (center) and former owner John Picchietti. | Joe Cyganowski~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 26, 2012 6:22AM
The city of Chicago is taking another shot at a drafting a gun ordinance it hopes will pass muster with the courts.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel is expected to introduce a revised ordinance Wednesday barring anyone with a misdemeanor conviction for a violent crime within five years from obtaining a city gun permit.
The proposal is a reaction to a federal judge’s ruling Tuesday striking down part of the city’s 2010 firearm ordinance.
A section of the ordinance that barred anyone convicted “in any jurisdiction” of “unlawful use of a weapon that is a firearm” was unconstitutional, U.S. District Judge Samuel Der-Yeghiayan found.
Der-Yeghiayan ruled in favor of a Chicago man who sued the city after he was denied a permit because of a misdemeanor unlawful use of a weapon conviction.
Unlawful use of a weapon involves possession of a gun—not firing a weapon.
Der-Yeghiayan said Shawn Gowder’s right to bear arms under the Second Amendment was violated when the city denied him a gun permit.
Gowder was convicted of unlawful use of a weapon in 1995. At the time, the charge was a felony but was downgraded to a misdemeanor after a 1999 Illinois Supreme Court decision.
“There is something incongruent about a nonviolent person, who is not a felon but is convicted of a misdemeanor offense of simple possession of a firearm, being forever barred from exercising his constitutional right to defend himself in his own home in Chicago against felons or violent criminals,” Der-Yeghiayan wrote. “The same constitution that protects people’s right to bear arms prohibits this type of indiscriminate and arbitrary governmental regulation.”
Under the revised gun ordinance, violent felonies would permanently bar anyone from receiving a city gun permit.
City spokeswoman Jennifer Hoyle said the judge’s ruling last week was “definitely a disappointment.”
Hoyle said city officials believe the section of the ordinance in question was a “common-sense” restriction.
The city presented evidence to the judge that handgun buyers with at least one misdemeanor conviction were 7.5 times more likely to commit another offense than someone without one.
Brian Koukoutchos, an attorney for Gowder, said the revised ordinance would not affect his client. The judge has ordered the city to provide Gowder with a gun permit, he said.
Koukoutchos said the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has previously ruled that people convicted of misdemeanors involving domestic violence can be barred from obtaining a gun.
But the city could come under a new legal challenge if it denies gun permits for people convicted of other types of “violent” misdemeanors, Koukoutchos said.
The gun ordinance, which laid out how Chicagoans could obtain gun permits, was passed in 2010 after the U.S. Supreme Court threw out the city’s 28-year-old handgun ban.
“Chicago’s pattern is to fight, lose and try to throw in something new,” Koukoutchos said. “Their prospects of prevailing the next time around are no better than in the past.”