Second Amendment Supporters to Challenge Chicago’s New Restrictions on Gun Ownership

By Nick Dean | July 6, 2010 | 4:57 PM EDT

Photo taken in Minute Man National Historical Park. Sculpture : "Minuteman" by sculptor Henry Hudson Kitson (1863-1947), dedicated April 19, 1900. Erected 1899. (Wikipedia Commons)

( – Following the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling last week that individuals at the state level have a right to own handguns under the Second Amendment, city officials in Chicago proposed and passed a new ordinance that many observers consider to be among the most stringent gun-ownership regulations in the country.  
However, gun-rights advocates are moving quickly to legally challenge the ordinance and provide citizens with information on their Second Amendment rights in light of the high court’s ruling.
Chicago Mayor Richard Daley released a 29-page set of rules last Thursday, the “Responsible Gun Ownership Ordinance,” to regulate the purchase and transportation of firearms in the city. Daley urged the city council to "move quickly and enact" the new ordinance, which it did, voting 45-0 in favor thereof on Friday.  
"[The ordinance] responsibly and reasonably balances previous Court rulings on Second Amendment rights with our determination to protect our residents from violence and keep them safe," Daley said at a Thursday press conference in Chicago.
The ordinance permits citizens to register only one firearm a month. It bans all operational gun shops and shooting ranges within the city. The new regulations also require those who want to obtain a permit for a firearm to take classes and undergo at least one hour of training at a shooting range prior to receiving a license.
Individuals are not allowed to purchase guns within the city limits and may not obtain firearms by any means other than "inheritance."
The ordinance mandates that an individual can only have one "functional" firearm in the home while all other firearms must be kept in a "broken down" state.
According to Daley's Web site, the new ordinance institutes financial penalties for not following the regulations, which vary dependent upon the infraction.
Daley said the new ordinance was put together after it became "clear" that the city's current handgun ordinance "will soon be struck down."
In the 5-4 decision in the McDonald v. Chicago case, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the second amendment is subject to incorporation with both federal and state laws. The decision came two years after the court had ruled in District of Columbia v. Heller that an individual has a right to a gun in his home for self-defense.

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The McDonald case, a clear victory for gun advocates, however was not seen as a total loss by those who favor gun regulation. The Legal Committee Against Violence (LCAV), for example,  released a statement saying that the case "permits (a) wide range of regulation."
The LCAV said the decision "emphasized that the Second Amendment does not protect the right to possess any firearm for any purpose."
The Second Amendment Foundation, which helped sponsor the litigants in the McDonald case, is now preparing for nationwide lawsuits against the regulations that many anti-gun advocates think the McDonald decision nonetheless protected, including the myriad rules in the new Chicago ordinance.
"The Chicago gun ban that we overturned last Monday at the Supreme Court was significantly stricter” than the new ordinance in Chicago, Alan Gottlieb, executive vice president of the Second Amendment Foundation, told “So, this is an improvement over what was there."
"By no means do we consider [the new ordinance] a good law, and there are parts of it that are definitely subject to legal challenge,” Gottlieb said. “It is a great improvement, though, because people in Chicago can now own a handgun."
Gottlieb said the SAF would not be filing lawsuits against all gun-ownership laws on the books because they are not all unconstitutional.
"[Some laws] may be bad public policy but the courts are not going to overturn every gun law that is out there,” he said. “Not every gun law is unconstitutional. There are a number of them out there that are no good and are unconstitutional, though.”
It is estimated that there are about 275 gun-ownership regulations nationwide.  
In regards to the new Chicago ordinance, Gottlieb said it is a mixture of poor public policy and unconstitutional laws.
The ordinance's ban of all gun shops and shooting ranges within the city is "discriminatory" and "looks to disenfranchise poorer Chicago communities," he said, because the laws also require those that want to own a firearm to train at shooting ranges and attend certain classes.
"What they are basically saying is that the poorer people of Chicago that don’t have access to transportation to leave the city to buy a gun or to train, aren't going to be able to have one,” said Gottlieb. “This is typical Chicago elitism.”
Gottlieb said the new ordinance is an attempt by the City of Chicago to "impede gun ownership,” adding that, "We plan on knocking out as much of [the ordinance] as we can in court. The city is trying to pass as restrictive laws as they can and to skirt the issue as best they can to not be subject to legal challenge, even though they have bad public policy.”
"Chicago is giving in, kicking and screaming the whole way,” he said. “We are going to make sure they kick and scream a lot more."