Gun Store Law in Chicago

by Howard Ankin
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Despite being forced to allow gun sales by a federal judge, the Chicago City Council approved a legislation that would significantly limit locations at which gun stores could be opened.  Gun store owners are being made aware that the city government will be checking up on them ever time they sell a gun.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the Chicago aldermen made it clear that they only allowed the opening of gun shops because a federal judge ruled that the city’s ban on stores that sell weapons was unconstitutional.

Aldermen have also listed some provisions – many of which will be challenged in court — such as a requirement that all gun sales be recorded on video and another that forces gun owners to open their books for inspection by the law enforcement. There are also restrictions on locations where the gun shops can be opened at, effectively prohibiting them in huge areas of the city; they are confined to specific areas and cannot be opened within 500 feet of schools and parks.

Unsurprisingly, this does not sit well with gun right advocates. Richard Pearson, executive director of the Illinois State Rifle Association called this law “an ordinance to prevent gun shops”. The City, having fought for decades to keep guns unavailable to its residents, faced numerous lawsuits because of that and will almost certainly face another one.

The Mayor disagreed, adding that the city’s legal department examined the ordinance and decided that it has a solid legal basis. He claims that the city has written a “solid, tough and enforceable ordinance.” Although he didn’t talk about the provision that requires videotaping, earlier he stated that the practice is not any different than that of photographing transactions at ATMs.

This ordinance also affects the so called straw purchasers. These are the people who buy guns and transfer them to people who are not allowed to buy or possess firearms. According to the police, that is the major reason of a flood of illegal guns into Chicago and why the Chicago police department seizes more illegal guns than any other city in the country. According to the Alderman James Balcer, “The ordinance, will allow employees to be trained to identify straw purchasers.” The ordinance also does not permit the buyers to purchase more than one gun every 30 days – this is supposed to be a hindrance for straw purchasers who prefer to buy multiple firearms at one time.

As lawsuits are sure to be filed in response to this the ordinance that was approved in July 2014, Chicago will remain the center of the national debate over gun control. In 2012 a Federal Appeals court in Chicago ruled that Illinois’ last-in-the-nation ban on concealed weapons was unconstitutional. Mayor Emanuel was quoted that, while he’s not welcoming a lawsuit, it is important to pass the toughest possible ordinance, regardless if it prompts a legal challenge. “You have to do what you think is right,”.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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