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Chicago Law Banning Gun Sales and Gifts Held Unconstitutional

By Gabriella Khorasanee, JD | Last updated on

Chicago, though not the largest city in the U.S., leads the country in gun violence, according to Reuters. And, while Illinois and Chicago have taken big steps to limit gun rights, many of the laws on the state and city level have been struck down on Second Amendment grounds.

The series of setbacks began in 2010 when the Supreme Court ruled that Heller applied to state and local laws, and overturned Chicago laws that prohibited individuals from owning guns. Later, the Seventh Circuit ruled that a Chicago law banning firing ranges and an Illinois law banning gun owners from carrying a weapon in public were unconstitutional, and the Illinois Supreme Court followed suit.

This week, the District Court for the Northern District of Illinois may have handed down the last blow, though how the City of Chicago will proceed remains to be seen.

Challenged Chicago Laws

Chicago Municipal Code § 8-20-100(a) essentially provides a blanket ban on the sale, gifting and transfer of guns, with the exception of inheritance, while Chicago Municipal Code § 17-16-0201, a zoning ordinance, prohibits the operation and construction of gun stores. An association of Illinois firearms retailers and a group of Chicago residents initiated an action in federal court alleging that the Chicago laws violated their Second Amendment rights.

Second Amendment Analysis

Judge Edward E. Chang noted the balance he had to strike between Chicago's gun violence and murder rate, and rights guaranteed by the Constitution. Though he recognized that the City has a right to protect its citizens, he reasoned that the Second Amendment also embodies "the right to acquire a firearm." He elaborated: "Chicago's ordinance goes too far in outright banning legal buyers and legal dealers from engaging in lawful acquisitions and lawful sales of firearms."

Judge Chan stayed the effect of his judgment to give the City of Chicago some time to figure out its next steps, including filing an appeal, or changing its laws. A spokesman for the Chicago Law Department stated that Mayor Rahm Emanuel "strongly disagrees" with the decision and has asked "city attorneys 'to consider all options to better regulate the sale of firearms within the city's borders,'" reports the Chicago Tribune.

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