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Emanuel calls federal appeals ruling on concealed weapons ‘wrong-headed’

Updated: January 14, 2013 7:25AM

Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Wednesday denounced as “wrong-headed” and a danger to Chicago a federal appeals court ruling that tossed out Illinois’ ban on carrying concealed weapons and gave the General Assembly six months to make it legal.

Emanuel said he has spent his entire public life doing battle against the National Rifle Association and he’s not about to stop now, even though federal appeals court judges have put state lawmakers on the clock.

The mayor portrayed the justices as out of touch and urged them to come down from their ivory tower and experience the terror that Chicagoans feel in neighborhoods held hostage by gangs.

“This ruling runs counter to not only common sense but what every police chief in the country thinks, which is we should not allow more guns on the street. It’s wrong-headed. They need to start spending a little more time in the real world and understand that their opinions have consequences to the people of Chicago,” the mayor said.

“I do not think you should be undermining our law enforcement community and our residents with a ruling that creates more potential for violence and makes the job of keeping our communities safer all that much harder.”

In his majority opinion, federal appeals judge Richard Posner wrote that “a Chicagoan is a good deal more likely to be attacked on a sidewalk in a rough neighborhood than in his apartment on the 35th floor of the Park Tower.”

The comment obviously angered Emanuel.

“Well, I’ve got something for you — especially when a judge talks about being up on the 35th floor. We have taken more guns off the streets of Chicago. We have arrested more gangs. Come down from the 35th floor onto the streets and help us protect our kids, our residents and law-abiding” people, Emanuel said.

The mayor said he found it “ironic” that, on the same day the federal appeals court set the stage for concealed carry in Illinois, Cook County’s chief judge chose to ban cellphones in the courtroom.

“Somehow, the courtroom is a place of sanctity that needs to be respected without cell phones, but our streets, all types of guns are allowed on,” the mayor said.

“Two courts totally different, so it can’t be said I’m comparing apples and oranges. But, it’s a strange sense of values that guns are permissible on the streets, but cell phones are a hindrance to the courtroom. … Cell phones will now be banned in court, but guns? Well, open up the flood gates and let ‘em out on the streets.”

When Chicago’s handgun ban was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court, then-Mayor Richard M. Daley sarcastically warned of a return to the Wild West where everybody has a gun.

Emanuel wouldn’t go quite that far. But he said the U.S. Supreme Court was wrong then and the federal appeals court is wrong now.

“Illinois has stood out correctly as it relates to concealed carry. And what goes on in the city of Chicago is clearly different than what goes on in parts of our Downstate. I respect that. But, I want people to also respect the city of Chicago, respect our children, respect our residents,” the mayor said.

“We have issues that are different. While our police are pulling more guns off the street, they’re taking gangs off the street.”

Emanuel said he talked to Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan after the ruling and offered to make available experts on gun laws from the city’s Law and Police Departments. The mayor said he didn’t “tell her what to do,” but he obviously hopes that Madigan opts to file an appeal.

“We’ve taken about 7,000 more guns off the street this year than [last] and I don’t think what we should be doing is what this court ruling does, which is decide to reverse that type of flow, which is more guns going back on the street,” he said.

In a split opinion, the three-member 7th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed lower court rulings in two cases Downstate that upheld the state’s longstanding prohibition against carrying concealed weapons.

Illinois is the only state with an outright prohibition on concealed carry.

A move to legalize concealed weapons could surface as soon as the January lame-duck session but is more likely to drag into the spring with a debate now no longer centering on whether to permit concealed carry but where — or where not — to permit it, such as college campuses, bars, sports arenas and movie theaters.

The timing hinges on Madigan’s plans. She still hasn’t said whether she intends to appeal this week’s dramatic ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court.

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