Chicago Enacts New Firearm Law — Again

Chicago Enacts New Firearm Law — Again

Lawmakers in Chicago turned their attention to gun control once
again recently after months of frequent shootings in the summer of
2012. The Chicago City Council amended the Chicago gun ordinance in
late July, the latest in a string of changes that aim to strike a
balance between public safety and personal freedom.

Frequent Change in Chicago Gun Law

Chicago lawmakers outlawed the sale and possession of handguns
in 1982, and the ban remained in place for nearly three decades
before it was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2010. The
Court ruled that the ban violated the Second Amendment to the U.S.
Constitution, which guarantees the right to keep and bear arms.

After the Supreme Court ruling struck down the ban, Chicago
lawmakers hastily passed a new law describing how to obtain a gun
permit in the city and who was eligible to receive one. Included in
the new law was a provision that denied gun permits to anyone with
a previous conviction for unlawful
use of a firearm
.

A Chicago resident challenged the new law after he was unable to
obtain a gun permit due to a prior conviction for a misdemeanor
weapons offense. A federal District Court judge struck down the
provision in June 2012, finding it to be unconstitutionally
vague.

New Gun Ordinance Strikes a Balance

In July 2012, the Chicago City Council amended the city’s gun
law once again to clarify how an applicant’s criminal record
affects his or her ability to receive a gun permit. Under the newly
revised law, people who have been convicted of violent felonies are
permanently barred from obtaining a handgun permit in Chicago, and
people convicted of violent misdemeanors are barred for five years.
Those convicted of a nonviolent misdemeanor are not barred from gun
ownership.

The latest version of the Chicago gun ordinance was drafted to
specifically address the deficiencies that led earlier versions of
the law to be struck down. By removing the ban for nonviolent
misdemeanors, Deputy Corporation Counsel Mike Forti told the
Chicago Sun-Times, the City Council has attempted to more closely
balance the seriousness of a prior offense with an individual’s
constitutional right to bear arms, making it less likely to be
overturned.

Striking Down on Violent Crime

Edward Burke, Alderman of Chicago’s 14th District, describes
Chicago’s ordinance as one of the toughest municipal gun laws in
the nation, the Chicago Sun-Times reported. However, Burke urged
the United States Congress to enact stricter federal legislation on
the issue, pointing out that “local jurisdictions can do just so
much.”

With Chicago’s homicide rate spiking by nearly 40 percent in
recent months, law enforcement is increasing its focus on enforcing
the city’s gun ordinance and keeping illegal firearms off the
streets. People facing weapons charges in Chicago are encouraged to
seek advice from a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney who can
help them understand the charges against them and fight for the
best possible resolution to their case.

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Chicago Enacts New Firearm Law — Again