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Chicago Mayor to Seek Six-Month Delay on Gun Law Overturn

Homicide Scene Investigation in Chicago
Police investigate a homicide scene after a 24-year-old man was found dead with a gunshot to his back along a sidewalk in the Lawndale neighborhood in Chicago, on Dec. 15, 2013. Chicago’s murder rate last year fell 18 percent from 2012 with the number of homicides dropping to 415 from 503. The third-most populous U.S. city registered the lowest homicide rate since 1966. Still, there were 1,864 shooting incidents and 2,328 shooting victims, according to Chicago Police Department statistics. Photographer: Scott Olson/Getty Images

Jan. 9 (Bloomberg) -- Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel told the city’s attorneys to seek a six-month delay of a federal court ruling that struck down a ban on gun sales within city limits.

U.S. District Judge Edmond Chang on Jan. 6 ruled the 2010 law, which prohibits any transactions involving firearms short of a family inheritance, is unconstitutional.

Chang imposed his own delay on the decision taking effect, saying he wanted to give the city time to either seek a stay pending appeal or enact a lawful regulation. Emanuel, in a statement today, said he wants the time to craft a new ordinance.

“Though I fully disagree, the city has little option but to follow the ruling of the court,” the mayor said.

“I’ve instructed the Law Department to work with public safety experts and community leaders to create a comprehensive set of restrictions on the sale of firearms to ensure that illegal guns don’t find their way into the hands of criminals or straw purchasers.”

Chicago’s murder rate last year fell 18 percent from 2012, with the number of homicides dropping to 415 from 503. The third-most populous U.S. city registered the lowest homicide rate since 1966.

Still, there were 1,864 shooting incidents and 2,328 shooting victims, according to Chicago Police Department statistics.

‘Stark Reality’

“The stark reality facing the city each year is thousands of shooting victims and hundreds of murders committed with a gun,” Chang said in his decision.

The judge said the city has an obligation to protect its citizens as well as the people’s constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms for self defense.

“That right must also include the right to acquire a firearm, although that acquisition right is far from absolute,” he said, citing restrictions on gun ownership by felons and the mentally ill, and commercial sales license requirements.

Chang said the city’s law went too far in “banning legal buyers and legal dealers from engaging in lawful acquisitions and lawful sales of firearms.”

The judge set a Jan. 13 deadline for city lawyers to file any request for a stay of his ruling and scheduled a court conference for the following day.

The 2010 lawsuit was filed by three Chicago residents, licensed as gun owners by the city and state, and the Illinois Association of Firearms Retailers.

Plaintiffs’ lawyer Charles Cooper, of the Washington law firm Cooper & Kirk Pllc, didn’t immediately respond to a telephone message seeking comment on the mayor’s announced plans.

The case is Benson v. City of Chicago, 10-cv-4184, U.S. District Court, 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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