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Mayor calls gun store ruling a ‘straitjacket,’ will ask for delay

Mayor Rahm Emanuel Thursday discusses city's request delay federal court ruling gun shops Chicago. | Fran Spielman~Sun-Times

Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Thursday discusses the city's request to delay the federal court ruling on gun shops in Chicago. | Fran Spielman~Sun-Times

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Updated: February 11, 2014 6:18AM

Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Thursday he will abide by a federal court ruling he views as a “straitjacket” — by allowing gun dealers to set up shop in Chicago — but needs six months to figure out where to put them.

Aside from building a protective bubble around schools, Emanuel refused to say where he believes gun shops should be confined or how he intends to comply with Monday’s ruling and still keep illegal guns out of the hands of criminals and straw purchasers.

The mayor would only acknowledge the obvious: Monday’s ruling was the latest in a string of legal setbacks overturning Chicago gun laws and he has no desire to extend the losing streak.

“The court’s been clear — from the [U.S.] Supreme Court on down — as it relates to peoples’ access to guns. . . . There’s a number of gun laws on the books in Chicago that we have lost in court. I’m not interested in litigation for the purpose of litigation,” Emanuel said.

“The court set up a set of boundaries. . . . While we have to abide by the straitjacket the court put us under — in my view, that’s a straitjacket — it’s not like there’s a shortage of guns. People get access to guns. But, I’m going to try to do it in a thoughtful way and a strategic way that doesn’t undermine what we’re trying to do in bringing a level of safety and security to the people of Chicago.”

When a reporter pressed mayor the again on where gun shops should be confined, Emanuel refused to tip his hand.

“That’s ahead of schedule. That’s why I’ve asked for six months….Obviously away from schools and areas like that. You’re ahead of yourself. I’ll try to put you on the group that thinks about it over the next four, five or six months,” he said.

Todd Vandermyde, legislative liaison for the National Rifle Association, welcomed the mayor’s decision to throw in the towel, but not the six-month delay.

“The city is becoming a little more sensical in their litigation approach, but they can figure this out a lot quicker than that,” Vandermyde said.

“There are a lot of other towns that have gun shops. They seem to have figured out that it’s a retail business that fits in a retail zone.”

After joining the mayor in presiding over a CompStat hearing at police headquarters, Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy noted that Chicago’s second murder of 2014 involved a legal handgun that was stolen in a burglary because the gun owner “did not properly safeguard” that weapon.

Asked what effect Chicago gun shops and transfers between individual gun owners would have on his efforts to continue a reduction in homicides and shootings in 2013, McCarthy said, “More availability. At least they don’t have to walk around the corner to buy a gun.”

He added, “More guns is not the solution to gun violence. . . .The greater the availability, obviously more guns will flow into the streets. And here is the thing we have to get through our heads: Gun laws of the state of Illinois facilitate the flow of illegal firearms into gangsters hands because they’re legally purchased and illegally transferred. There’s zero accountability . . . after you walk out of that gun shop legally purchasing a handgun.”

In a 35-page ruling published Monday, U.S. District Court Judge Edmond E. Chang wrote that Chicago’s 2010 ordinance banning gun sales within city limits “goes too far in outright banning legal buyers and legal dealers from engaging in lawful acquisitions and lawful sales of firearms.”

Chang acknowledged that the city has a “fundamental duty” to protect its citizens. He also acknowledged that “the stark reality facing the City each year is thousands of shooting victims and hundreds of murders committed with a gun.”

But the judge said the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms for self-defense “must also include the right to acquire a firearm.”

“If all cities and municipalities can prohibit gun sales and transfers within their own borders, then all gun sales and transfers may be banned across a wide swath of the country if this principle is carried forward to its natural conclusion,” he added.

Chang noted that nothing in his ruling stops Chicago Police from enforcing gun laws, or “prevents the City from considering other regulations — short of the complete ban — on sales and transfers of firearms to minimize the access of criminals to firearms and to track the ownership of firearms,” Chang wrote.

Any new ordinance could include zoning restrictions that limit the parts of the city in which the gun shops can do business, he suggested.


Twitter: @fspielman

Contributing: Stefano Esposito

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