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Chicago Ban on Gun Sales Within City Struck Down by Judge

A federal judge has ruled that Chicago’s ban on gun sales within the city is unconstitutional. Photographer: Andrew Burton/Getty Images
A federal judge has ruled that Chicago’s ban on gun sales within the city is unconstitutional. Photographer: Andrew Burton/Getty Images

Jan. 7 (Bloomberg) -- A Chicago law prohibiting the sale of guns within the third-most populous U.S. city was struck down as unconstitutional by a federal judge.

“Chicago’s ordinance goes too far in outright banning legal buyers and legal dealers from engaging in lawful acquisitions and lawful sales of firearms,” U.S. District Judge Edmond E. Chang wrote in a decision yesterday.

The judge said he was delaying the effect of his ruling to allow the city time to seek a stay during an appeal or, if it elects to forgo an appeal, to consider and enact sales restrictions “short of a complete ban.”

The ordinance, adopted in 2010 after the U.S. Supreme Court in a 5-4 decision invalidated a ban on gun possession within the city, allowed only the transfer of firearms through inheritance, prohibiting even gifts among family members.

There were 415 murders and 1,864 shooting incidents last year, according to Chicago police, in the city of 2.7 million where President Barack Obama’s political career began.

Second Amendment

The right to keep and bear arms for self-defense under the U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment must also include the right to acquire a firearm, Chang said.

“The Mayor strongly disagrees with the court’s decision and has instructed the city’s Corporation Counsel to consider all options to better regulate the sale of firearms within the city’s borders,” Roderick Drew, a spokesman for the Chicago’s Department of Law, said in an e-mail. “Every year Chicago Police recover more illegal guns than officers in any city in the country, a factor of lax federal laws as well as lax laws in Illinois and surrounding states related to straw purchasing and the transfer of guns.”

Chang set a Jan. 13 deadline for the city to file papers seeking a stay and scheduled a status conference before him the following day at the federal courthouse in Chicago.

The lawsuit was filed in July 2010 by three city residents and the Illinois Association of Firearms Retailers.

The case is Benson v. City of Chicago, 10-cv-04184, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois (Chicago).

To contact the reporter on this story: Andrew Harris in federal court in Chicago at aharris16@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net

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