Friday, July 02, 2010

Chicago passes handgun restrictions

By Jamey Dunn

In the wake of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling, which will likely mean an end to the city’s 1982 handgun ban, the Chicago City Council passed an ordinance today that would strictly limit gun ownership.

The council voted 45-0 to approve the measure in response to Monday’s Supreme Court ruling that residents have the right to have a handgun in their homes for protection.

It would seem the city council took the ruling literally. The ordinance permits guns only within residences. Mara Georges, the city of Chicago’s corporation counsel, made the ordinance's definition of a home quite clear at a Chicago press conference. “It is not the garage. It is not the stairs — not porches not the back, side or front yard space.”

She added that dormitories, hotels and group living facilities are not considered homes under the measure. And for transportation, guns must be broken down and inoperable.

“Consistent with the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling, we are allowing the possession of handguns in limited circumstances. That is, in the home for self defense purposes,”

Those wanting to own a handgun would have to get a city permit and register the weapon with the Chicago Police. They would also have to undergo classroom and firing range training. Those with convictions for violent crimes, domestic violence or two or more DUIs would not be eligible for a permit.

Gun owners would be limited to one functioning firearm per household; additional guns would have to be broken down. Guns in homes with children younger than 18 would need to be stored in a lock box or have a trigger lock.

The ordinance prohibits gun shops or firing ranges, with the exception of those used for police training, in the city.

Those who may already have handguns have 90 days to register them. After then, the penalty for a first time violation of the ordinance is a fine of up to $5,000 and up to 90 days in jail. According to Georges, anyone convicted of a gun offense who lives, works or attends school in Chicago would have to register, and the list would be posted online.

“As mayor, I must balance the interests of abiding by the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling with my responsibility to protect the people of Chicago and keep them safe. …We believe we have accomplished this in this ordinance,” Mayor Richard Daley said in Chicago.

Daley urged Chicagoans to think twice before getting a gun. “Although people have a constitutional right to have a handgun in their home, the best way to avoid firearm related injuries and death is not to have a gun in the home in the first place.”

Advocates for Second Amendment rights say they plan to challenge several aspects of the ordinance. Both they and Daley expect a long legal battle.


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