Chicago Backs Criminals Over Law Abiding Citizens

AP – Chicago Mayor Richard Daley speaks during a news conference, Thursday, July 1, 2010 in Chicago. Daley

HOW DARE YOU DEFEND YOURSELF

By DON BABWIN

CHICAGO – The Chicago City Council on Friday approved what city officials say is the strictest handgun ordinance in the nation, but not before lashing out at the Supreme Court ruling they contend makes the city more dangerous because it will put more guns in people’s hands.

The new ordinance bans gun shops in Chicago and prohibits gun owners from stepping outside their homes, even onto their porches or in their garages, with a handgun. It becomes law in 10 days, Corporation Counsel Mara Georges said.

The vote comes just four days after the high court ruled Americans have the right to have handguns anywhere for self-defense — a ruling that makes the city’s 28-year-old ban on such weapons unenforceable.

“I wish that we weren’t in the position where we’re struggling to figure out a way in which we can limit the guns on our streets and still meet the test that our Supreme Court has set for us,” said Alderman Toni Preckwinkle, minutes before the council voted 45-0 to approve the ordinance.

It was swift action for a council that typically takes far longer to pass ordinances, but Mayor Richard Daley — who promised the city would not “roll over” if the court ruled against the city’s handgun ban — clearly wanted to give police a law they could begin enforcing as quickly as possible.

“You have to get the tools to the police,” Daley said.

And even though the ban remains in effect until it is struck down by an appellate court, Georges said it was important to pass a new law to clear up confusion Chicagoans might have about what kind of weapons they can legally own and how they can use them.

Some residents applauded the vote.

“There’s just too much killing going on (and) we need protection,” said Mary Fitts, a retiree who came from her home on the South Side to watch the vote. “You can’t even sit on your front porch.”

Others, like Senesceria Craig, wondered how much good it would do. “They’re not going to abide by it,” she said of criminals, pointing out that her 20-year-old daughter was shot and killed with a handgun in 1992, 10 years after the city’s ban went into effect.

But gun rights supporters quickly criticized Daley and the City Council and promised lawsuits.

“The city wants to put as many hurdles and as much red tape in the way of someone who just wants to exercise their constitutional right to have a gun,” said Todd Vandermyde, a lobbyist with the National Rifle Association in Illinois.

Vandermyde would not say when lawsuits might be filed. But he said the ordinance would be attacked on a number of fronts — including requiring prospective gun owners to pay $15 for each firearm registered, $100 every three years for a Chicago Firearms Permit, not to mention the cost of the required training — saying they all add up to discrimination against the poor.

“How are some people in some of the poorer neighborhoods who merely want to have firearms for self-defense supposed to afford to get through all this red tape?” he asked.

David Lawson, one of the plaintiffs in the case decided by the Supreme Court this week, agreed. He wondered if a challenge could be raised over the issue of training, saying it’s unfair to require training but prohibit that training from taking place in the city.

Daley and Georges said they expect lawsuits but that they were confident they could withstand legal challenges.

The ordinance also:

• Limits the number of handguns residents can register to one per month and prohibits residents from having more than one handgun in operating order at any given time.

• Requires residents in homes with children to keep handguns in lock boxes or equipped with trigger locks and requires residents convicted of a gun offense to register with the police department, much as sex offenders are now required to do.

• Prohibits people from owning a gun if they were convicted of a violent crime, domestic violence or two or more convictions for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

• Requires prospective gun owners to be fingerprinted, take a four-hour class and one-hour training at a gun range.

• Calls for the police department to maintain a registry of every registered handgun owner in the city, with the names and addresses to be made available to police officers, firefighters and other emergency responders.

Those who have handguns, illegal under the ban, would have 90 days from the day the ordinance is enacted to register those weapons.

Residents convicted of violating the ordinance face a fine of up to $5,000 and be locked up for as long as 90 days for a first offense, and a fine of up to $10,000 and as long as six months behind bars for subsequent convictions.

Chicago Mayor Vows To Fight Against The Rights Of The People…

(CBS/AP) A Supreme Court ruling finding that Americans have the right to bear arms anywhere they live almost certainly means the end of Chicago’s decades-old handgun ban, but it may not make handgun ownership there much easier if the city’s powerful mayor has his way.

Shortly after the high court voted 5-4 Monday along ideological lines – with five conservative-moderate justices in favor of gun rights and four liberals opposed – Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley said officials were already at work rewriting the city ordinance to adhere to the court ruling while protecting Chicago residents from gun violence.

“We will never give in to those who use guns to harm others,” Daley said in comments aimed at his constituents. “Your fight is my fight and we’re in this together.”

And in other cities and states, officials said they were confident their gun control laws would withstand legal challenges.

“We do think it’ll probably give us some bigger legal bills, but I suspect that we will be able to continue to do exactly what we’ve been doing – have reasonable regulations as to who can buy and where you can carry,” New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, an ardent gun control advocate, said of Monday’s ruling.

The decision didn’t explicitly strike down nearly 30-year-old handgun bans in Chicago and its suburb of Oak Park. Instead, it ordered a federal appeals court to reconsider its ruling. But it left little doubt that the statutes eventually would fall.

In the majority decision, Justice Samuel Alito wrote that the Second Amendment right “applies equally to the federal government and the states.”

But the decision also signaled that some limitations on the Constitution’s “right to keep and bear arms” could survive legal challenges. Alito noted that while fully binding on states and cities, the Second Amendment “limits (but by no means eliminates) their ability to devise solutions to social problems that suit local needs and values.”

Justices John Paul Stevens and Stephen Breyer, joined by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor, each wrote a dissent. Stevens said that unlike a ruling two years ago overturning a Washington, D.C., handgun ban, Monday’s decision “could prove far more destructive – quite literally – to our nation’s communities and to our constitutional structure.”

Gun rights supporters had challenged the Chicago and Oak Park laws – the last two remaining outright bans in the country, according to The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence – almost immediately after the high court struck down a ban on handguns and a trigger lock requirement for other guns in Washington, a federal city with a unique legal standing. That ruling applied only to federal laws.

Lower federal courts upheld the Illinois cities’ bans, noting that judges on those benches were bound by Supreme Court precedent and that it would be up to the high court justices to ultimately rule on the true reach of the Second Amendment.

Monday’s ruling was a victory for gun rights supporters, but they also said they expected state and local governments to draft laws to impede gun ownership.

Attorney David Sigale, who represented one of the plaintiffs associated with Monday’s decision, said he has been advising prospective handgun owners to hold off buying them.

“In light of Mayor Daley’s threat … that there could be a whole new mess of regulations on the books, which I’m sure will only go to further hinder and burden the Constitutional rights given today, I think it would be prudent to wait and see what those developments are before everyone rushes out and avails themselves of this new right,” Sigale said.

Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of the National Rifle Association, said he expects the same from other municipalities as well, saying the NRA “will continue to work at every level to insure that defiant city councils and cynical politicians do not transform this constitutional victory into a practical defeat through Byzantine regulations and restrictions.”

In Massachusetts, Attorney General Martha Coakley said the ruling would not pose a problem because the state controls, but doesn’t ban, guns. Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick is pushing a bill that would make it illegal to buy more than one gun per month.

“The provision in the governor’s bill relative to a one-gun-a-month limit is not analogous since it does not ban the ownership of firearms, but just regulates the amount,” said Patrick’s spokesman, Kyle Sullivan.

Daley didn’t specify what measures he intends to push, but he said he planned to move quickly to get them in front of the City Council, saying that it is possible a special session will be called to address the issue.

He said he’s considering creating a registry of the names and addresses of everyone in the city who legally owns a handgun, which would be made available to police officers, firefighters and other “first responders” before they arrive at the scene of emergencies.

The mayor also said Chicago might follow the District of Columbia’s lead in requiring prospective gun owners to take training courses that include several hours of classroom learning about gun safety and passing a 20-question test.

Daley has suggested that owners may be required to buy insurance for those guns.

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