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Judge grants six-month delay on letting gun shops set up in Chicago

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Updated: February 16, 2014 6:25AM

A federal judge Tuesday granted the city the six months Mayor Rahm Emanuel said it needs to figure out where to allow gun shops in Chicago.

U.S. District Court Judge Edmond Chang said his decision balances the needs of the city to craft regulations with the public’s Second Amendment rights.

Pete Patterson, an attorney for gun rights advocates, told Chang the six-month time frame is too long. Patterson said the city acted far more quickly to a court ruling that overturned the statewide ban on carrying concealed weapons in Illinois.

But Andrew Worseck, a city Law Department attorney, said that in that case, the legal fight was far more prolonged — giving city officials more time to draft regulations.

After Tuesday’s brief hearing, Worseck told reporters he’s confident six months will be sufficient for the city to come up with rules regulating the sale of guns within Chicago.

“We will do everything we can to have a new package in place within 180 days,” Worseck said.

Last week, Emanuel said he would abide by the federal court ruling he views as a “straitjacket” but said he needs six months to set up rules and regulations and figure out where to put the gun stores.

On Tuesday, Emanuel thanked the judge for giving the city more time to develop what he hopes will be some of the “strictest regulations” in the nation on where gun shops can be located. But he once again refused to identify those areas.

“I have a different view as it relates to the court and their view on guns and access. But I decided to ask for that six months because I didn’t want to leave the decision about Chicago’s public safety to the courts,” he said.

“We’re going to take it in our own hands, chart our own course … in a way that does not undermine what our community groups, our Police Department and our after-school programs are trying to do to protect our city, our children and our neighborhoods. We’ll do it in a way that … lives within the straitjacket the court put us in but does not undermine what … all of us are trying to do day in and day out.”

The mayor made those remarks after joining Gov. Pat Quinn and former Lakers great Magic Johnson at a news conference to announce the decision by EquiTrust Life Insurance Company to open a Chicago office. Johnson, who has a growing list of business interests in Chicago, is becoming a controlling shareholder in the insurance company.

Meanwhile, the City Council’s Budget Committee accepted a $150,000 grant from the Joyce Foundation that Emanuel intends to use to hire “someone with the expertise” to create a “gun violence prevention” plan for Chicago.

“We’d like to do some research into where illegal guns are being trafficked into the city, develop an interdiction plan, work on a strategy with our federal and local partners — including the state’s attorney’s office and federal prosecutors,” said Janey Rountree, Emanuel’s chief deputy for public safety.

“We’re also looking at ways that we can do better at preventing gun violence by working with CPS, by looking at how juveniles are diverted through the juvenile intervention and support center.”

Rountree noted that the Joyce Foundation has funded a “number of staff positions” for the mayors of Milwaukee, Minneapolis and other major cities in recent years, through a gun-control group spearheaded and primarily bankrolled by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

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