Chicago Mayor Daley: Why Can’t I Bring a Gun to the Supreme Court?

Chicago Mayor Richard Daley is staring down the barrel of a Supreme Court decision throwing out The Windy City’s gun ban. This does not please Hizzoner, who is not used to people telling him what to do. Or, apparently, where he can or can not take a gun. “The thing I can’t understand is I can’t go to the Supreme Court with a gun,” Daley said to or near ABC News. “Why not? Why can’t I go with a gun and listen to the arguments? If a gun is so important to us on the streets. I’m just saying let cities make decisions for themselves. None of [the Supreme Court justices] live here in Chicago,” said Daley. Somehow I don’t think they would, now. FYI I’ve posted a list of the relevant Municipal Codes of Chicago that apply to handgun possession (or lack thereof) from the original lawsuit, after the jump. Click here for a pdf of the relevant Highland Park (IL) handgun ordinances. I’ve also scraped ChicagoGunCase.com‘s specific criticisms of the statutes.


In case you were wondering (so to speak) . . .

This proceeding involves the 1982 Chicago Weapons Ordinance, passed by the Chicago City Council on March 19, 1982 (see Chicago Municipal Code 11.1 et seq. (1982), now amended and recodified at Chicago Municipal Code 8-20-010 et seq. (1990) (set forth in pertinent part in our Discussion, below)), rendering certain firearms unregisterable in the City of Chicago.

Under that ordinance, several categories of firearms, including handguns, became unregisterable in the City of Chicago. See Chicago Municipal Code 11.1-3 (1982) (now Chicago Municipal Code 8-20-050 (1990)).

However, pursuant to a grandfathering provision provided in the 1982 ordinance, handgun owners whose handguns were validly registered prior to the effective date of the handgun ban could continue to re-register their handguns. See Chicago Municipal Code 11.1-3(c)(1) (1982) (now Chicago Municipal Code 8-20-050(c)(1) (1990)).

The 1982 ordinance also required that such re-registration take place every two years. See Chicago Municipal Code 11.1-18 (1982) (amended and recodified in 1994 to require annual re-registration (see Chicago
Municipal Code 8-20-200(a) (1994))).

The failure to re-register firearms every two years after the enactment of the 1982 ordinance rendered such firearms permanently unregisterable, and thereby caused handgun owners to forfeit their right to possess
such firearms within the City of Chicago. See Chicago Municipal Code 11.1-18 (1982) (now Chicago Municipal Code 8-20-200(c) (1990)).

And now what that all means—at least from the anti-handgun ban folks’ POV.

Chicago requires that guns be registered, and re-registered, and re-registered again, over and over, each and every year. Each time, a tax is imposed, forms must be filled out, photographs submitted. A person who owns more than one gun will find herself constantly in the process of registering each gun as it comes due for expiration. If registration is to be required, once is enough. We are challenging the endless nature of the registration process.

Chicago also requires that guns be registered before they are acquired. The code does not allow people a reasonable time within which to register their guns. Often times, this requirement makes gun registration impossible. Chicagoans find it difficult, at best, to lawfully register guns they acquire outside city limits or even from the federal government’s Civilian Marksmanship Program. If the city wants to have guns registered, it should make it practical to register guns. We are challenging the requirement that registration always precede the acquisition of a firearm, so that people can lawfully bring to Chicago guns they acquired elsewhere and, at least in some circumstances, guns they acquire within city limits but cannot practically register prior to their acquisition.

Finally, we are challenging the bizarre penalty imposed by city officials for failure to comply with its registration scheme: a ban on the “registerability” of the gun sought to be registered. Imagine if you bought a car but somehow failed to satisfy the DMV’s registration requirement. Should you have to throw that particular car away, even if the government will allow you to drive another, identical vehicle? Rendering a particular gun permanently “non-registerable” within the City of Chicago because its registration once lapsed, or because of some defect in the application process, makes no sense. Even Mayor Daley and the City Council recognized this much, endorsing a temporary amnesty plan allowing people a brief window within which to register guns whose registration had lapsed.

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