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Chicago Federal Court strikes down ban on gun sales and transfers

Chicago Federal Court strikes down ban on gun sales and transfers

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, @LawSelfDefense

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, (paperback and Kindle), Barnes & Noble (paperback and Nook), and elsewhere.


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I do wonder where the 2nd Amdt is going to end up in terms of scrutiny. You would think it should get strict scrutiny, being a specifically enumerated Constitutional right. But, if it were, how could the feds ever be able to enforce the NFA, et seq, to keep automatic weapons out of civilian hands? Heller essentially said that rational basis was insufficient scrutiny, but refused to go further. Expect that these ordinances are egregious enough that the Supreme Court could duck the question again.

This should be no surprise: neither the court ruling nor the posture of the Chicago city council. The council previously had even more ridiculous rules in place prior to the McDonald decision. The current law was the council’s response to that.

Rahm and the aldermen will stall and appeal as long as possible. When the USSC affirms this district court decision (or refuses cert after the Circuit Court affirms), the council then will try (as did the Illinois legislature on the concealed carry law) to write as restrictive a law as they can that will pass muster. They understand that lawsuits and appeals are expensive and take time for plaintiffs; the council has great lawyers and all the money they need. If it takes several tries, who cares?

There’s no significant ‘gun lobby’ in Chicago. But there’s a lot of ACORN-like groups, funded by a lot of Soros-like groups, that push money to the alderman’s campaign funds. That’s why you have this law.

    Immolate in reply to stevewhitemd. | January 7, 2014 at 5:03 pm

    Why try to write a law that passes muster? Just keep jiggering the law and re-applying while eating up years at a time with a defacto unconstitutional law in place. This is game Chicago can play indefinitely, while the opposition withers on the vine.

      BoPMonkey in reply to Immolate. | January 8, 2014 at 12:34 pm

      And as amazing as it may seem, it appears that all the low-info (read: MORON) voters here in Chicago must not mind picking up the tab on all the lawsuits, seeing how they keep voting these crooks into office! They all vote for “Hope” and “Change”… Riiiiiiight!!!

I wonder where this ruling leaves Oak Park’s (a suburb just west of Chicago)ban on the sale and transfer of firearms within the town limits? Somebody might be getting ready to write a big check.

Yu.Ain.Gonnano | January 7, 2014 at 12:03 pm

The court also stayed it’s ruling pending appeal. Is this simply standard operating procedure when laws are overturned, or is this the court’s way of slow-walking a ruling that it has to make, but doesn’t actually like?

Democrats want to control people utterly.

~Deny them the ability to defend themselves, they’re controlled.

~Deny them the ability to get the healthcare they want, they’re controlled.

~Deny them the ability to hire the people they want at the wages they’re willing to pay (and acceptable to the applicant), they’re controlled.

~Deny them the ability to speak their minds, they’re controlled.

~Other examples could easily be listed.

Democrats: vicious yes; stupid, no, though they must have stupid voters. Everything they do involves FORCE. Freedom is to them a 4-letter word.

Momentary setback. Emmanuel and his cohort will just come up with another maneuver around the Constitution. They have an endless supply. And next time maybe they’ll get a friendlier judge. Sooner or later, after packing all the courts, they can’t help but get the judge they want. They’re playing the long game, the exhaustive beat-down of our rights. Meanwhile, their education system grinds out more indoctrinated civic idiots… as their policies bind more dependents to the yoke of the State… as their corruption and voter fraud render elections meaningless.

Not A Member of Any Organized Political | January 7, 2014 at 1:20 pm

Former ballerina mayor Rahm Emanuel won’t be happy having his tutu pulled into an atomic wedgie on this.

Keep an NSA-like eye on him!

Snark Snark!

Perhaps slightly off topic, but somewhat related is this report from the AP:
“Last month the 1st District Court of Appeal ruled that Florida colleges and universities don’t have authority to prohibit guns from being stored in cars.”

Granted, there has long been a chasm of difference between Miami and Chicago regarding attitudes and application of 2nd amendment rights. However, last year a private university in Miami-Dade reissued a statement regarding “zero tolerance” for weapons of any kind, anywhere on campus. This preceding the verdict in the Zimmerman case.

I was dismayed that University policy could trump my right to protection traveling to and from work (through Miami Gardens and other notorious areas), so long as my side arm was safely stored in my locked car once there. That was my interpretation of FL statutes on concealed carry,anyway.

The AP article stated that University of South Florida, Florida State University and the University of North Florida are among schools changing gun policy following the decision. Guns still cannot be carried onto the campus under state law but will allow guns to be kept in cars on campus.Gun rights groups threatened to sue any university that continued to ban guns in cars following the appeals ruling. Good.

I predict, however, given the progressive mentality which dominates academia in FL as elsewhere, the next case to be heard on this matter will likely be arguments by university admins to demand that all firearms legally kept in vehicles be registered with their “campus security” departments.That should not fly either, but it will not stop the control freak, anti-gun people from tying up the courts with their resistance to individual rights.

“That is one of the fundamental duties of government: to protect its citizens.

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.”

The Court has this backwards. The primary function of government is to preserve and protect our God-given rights. In doing so, the citizens are able to protect themselves, and provide for the protection of others.

Andrew, this is OT but needs an answer. I assume you’re aware of yesterday’s “road rage” case in southern Pennsylvania. Can you tell us what the proper procedure should be in a case like this? If someone is tail-gating you, as in this instance, can you fire at him or must you wait till he forces you off the road. Even then, are you justified in shooting him?

Perhaps a separate post would be good. I just wanted to get this out there.

    I haven’t yet read about that particular “road rage” case, so I’ll have to speak generally. (If it just happened, the “facts” in the “news” will be all but worthless, anyway.)

    In a “road range” situation all the same rules of the law of self defense apply as they would if the other guy had a gun.

    Actually, a more apt metaphor might be when one is attacked by a barehanded assailant (granting, of course, that a car can be a far more powerful weapon than any man-portable gun).

    Bare hands CAN kill–I’ve read a great many cases were the victim was slain with a single, barehanded punch.

    The fact remains, however, that the overwhelming proportion of punches do NOT result in death, and as a result barehanded punches (absent some aggravating circumstance, as in the Zimmerman case) are invariably deemed non-deadly force that cannot be met with a deadly-force response.

    The same is true of road rage scenarios. Tailgaters CAN kill, and I’m sure we’ve all read of road-rage incidents that have resulted in an innocent person’s death.

    But the fact remains that the overwhelming proportion of road rage incidents do NOT result in death, and so the more superficial acts of road rage–“mere” tailgating, screaming, being informed that “you’re #1!”–will never be deemed a deadly force attack that justifies a deadly force response.

    As with the barehanded attack, there would need to be some aggravating circumstance that escalates things beyond a “mere” road rage incident. Are they actually, physically forcing you off the road? Is their vehicle making contact with yours, threatening your physical control of your own vehicle? If you slow to a stop, do they stop, follow when you back up, block your avenue of escape?

    Those would be the kinds of aggravating factors that might lead a reasonable person to believe they were under an elevated degree of threat, perhaps even an imminent threat of deadly force. And those are the kinds of factors, at that level of specificity, your lawyer would want to be able to articulate to police, prosecutors, judges, and juries in order to deliver a compelling narrative of innocence to justify your use of deadly force.

    It’s also important to keep in mind that when a defender is within a working motor vehicle with an unblocked path of travel, he is almost always deemed to have had a safe avenue of escape open to him (absent a muzzle being directed at him). Even in most Stand-Your-Ground states, the failure to take advantage of a safe avenue of retreat, while not a breach of duty that automatically loses you self-defense, can still be used to argue that your actions in self-defense were not reasonable or necessary.

    Consistent with past practice, my advice is to do everything within one’s power to escape the threat, let him have the lane, etc., and live to “fight” another day. If that doesn’t work, my next step would be to try and see if you can determine their actual degree of threat–in a car, for example, I might well lean on the horn, and keep it blaring continuously until either the threat left, or further escalated the conflict requiring more vigorous protective defensive steps be taken.

    The use of deadly force in self-defense ought to be a step taken only when necessity demands it to secure the safety of innocents. Of course, should that necessity arise, use all the force you need (but no more than that). 🙂

    –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

Thank you for such a quick reply. Further details can be found here:

The victim was not armed and was fatally shot by the aggressor. Beyond that there’s not much known and your point that the “facts” in the news are next to worthless is well-taken.