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Chicago's Gun Ban Struck Down, but Ruling Placed On Hold

By Aditi Mukherji, JD on January 07, 2014 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

A city ban on gun sales within Chicago is unconstitutional, a federal judge ruled. U.S. District Judge Edmond E. Chang said the city ban, aimed to curb gun violence, is unconstitutional because it goes too far in barring buyers and dealers from engaging in lawful sales. The ruling opens the possibility for retail gun retailers to set up shop in Chicago.

For now, however, the judgment is stayed, until the city can figure out its next steps.

Whittling Away Gun Control in Chicago

Gun rights groups have targeted Chicago ever since the city experienced a major handgun crackdown. The judicial system has followed in suit, reports the Chicago Tribune.

The ruling fits squarely within other recent rulings eroding gun ordinances in the city. In 2010, for example, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Chicago's ban on handgun ownership. Since the U.S. Supreme Court's decision, the city has endured a slew of legal blows from the lower courts. Most recently, the Illinois Supreme Court deemed part of Chicago's public carrying laws unconstitutional, following the lead of the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals' 2012 decision. Let's also not forget the overturning of the city's firing range ban.

Chang's ruling stripped away key elements of Chicago's gun ordinance that prohibit licensed gun stores from operating in the city. More specifically, Chang struck down Municipal Code § 8-20-100 and the City's zoning ordinance, MCC § 17-16-0201, which ban gun sales and transfers other than inheritance.

Overturning the ban on retail gun stores and private gun sales was the last major obstacle gun rights groups faced in their long-term struggle to dismantle Chicago's rigid gun laws.

New Strategy Ahead?

Chang essentially ruled that if you have the constitutional right to own a gun, you presumably have the right to obtain one, too. That principle will make it very hard for the city to maintain blanket bans on gun sales and transfers.

As a result, we may soon see the city shift its focus from wholesale bans to exhaustive regulation. So, even if Chicago ends up allowing gun sales, the city may heavily regulate them. From the city's perspective, a de facto ban is practically more effective than a wholesale ban vulnerable to constitutional challenges. So the gun control game isn't over just yet.

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