US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois yesterday handed down a stinging defeat to the City of Chicago, and it’s mayor Rahm Emanuel.
Despite clear Constitutional direction derived from D.C. v. Heller, and McDonald v. Chicago, the city of Chicago had insisted it possessed the power of law to deny almost all otherwise lawful purchases and transfers of guns in the city.
Federal District Court Judge Edmond E. Chang, however, disagreed:
Three Chicago residents and an association of Illinois firearms dealers brought this suit against the City of Chicago (Mayor Rahm Emanuel is sued in his official capacity, which is the same as suing the City), challenging the constitutionality of City ordinances that ban virtually all sales and transfers of firearms inside the City’s limits.1 R. 80, Second Am. Compl. The ban covers federally licensed firearms dealers; even validly licensed dealers cannot sell firearms in Chicago. The ban covers gifts amongst family members; only through inheritance can someone transfer a firearm to a family member. Chicago does all this in the name of reducing gun violence. That is one of the fundamental duties of government: to protect its citizens. The stark reality facing the City each year is thousands of shooting victims and hundreds of murders committed with a gun.
But on the other side of this case is another feature of government: certain fundamental rights are protected by the Constitution, put outside government’s reach, including the right to keep and bear arms for self-defense under the Second Amendment. This right must also include the right to acquire a firearm, although that acquisition right is far from absolute: there are many long-standing restrictions on who may acquire firearms (for examples, felons and the mentally ill have long been banned) and there are many restrictions on the sales of arms (forexample, licensing requirements for commercial sales). But Chicago’s ordinance goestoo far in outright banning legal buyers and legal dealers from engaging in lawful acquisitions and lawful sales of firearms, and at the same time the evidence does not support that the complete ban sufficiently furthers the purposes that the ordinance tries to serve. For the specific reasons explained later in this opinion, the ordinances are declared unconstitutional.
Although his decision left the door open for any manner of constraints imposed by the city of Chicago the purchase of firearms, the effectively absolute ban on purchases currently in place was deemed unconstitutional. Applying a standard deemed “almost strict scrutiny” (yeah, me too), Judge Chang determined that the city’s restrictions on transfers, and the absence of any evidence that these restrictions actually helped reduce the gun violence the city claimed was the intended goal, meant that Chicago’s gun-control laws must (once again) be struck down.
For those who are interested, the full-length decision can be read here:
Andrew F. Branca is an MA lawyer and the author of the seminal book “The Law of Self Defense, 2nd Edition,” available at the Law of Self Defense blog, Amazon.com (paperback and Kindle), Barnes & Noble (paperback and Nook), and elsewhere.