Daley: City anticipating gun ban overturn

May 20, 2010 5:01:12 AM PDT
Within the next five weeks, the U.S. Supreme Court will rule on a challenge to Chicago's 28-year-old ban on handguns. It's believed the court will rule that the law is unconstitutional. ABC 7's Paul Meincke talked with Mayor Richard Daley about what the city might do next.

Conventional wisdom is that the handgun ban will not pass constitutional muster. Mindful of that, the city has been -- for some time now -- formulating plans on what it does next. The mayor says there are plans in place still being refined. But a strong hint of what Chicago will do requires only a look at the nation's capital.

Two years ago, the Supreme Court declared Washington DC's handgun ban unconstitutional, saying that residents have a 2nd Amendment right to possess a handgun in the home for self-defense. But the court also said that right is not unlimited and local governments are free to enact reasonable gun regulation.

"We'll be looking at local ordinances. We'll have to wait for the decision to come down and what they will say in the decision," said Mayor Daley.

What Chicago does may be patterned after what Washington DC has already done. Its new gun control laws -- now a year old -- say that prospective handgun owners must register their guns after undergoing more extensive background checks, including giving fingerprints and photographs.

The gun they buy must first be given to police for ballistics identification. An owner must complete a training course -- four hours in the classroom, one on a gun range. And, among other restrictions, you can register no more than one gun a month, and you must undergo background checks every six years.

"You have to have some familiarity with the law with regard to the use of guns. Those are all important safety requirements. We require similar things when we give a driver's license," said Paul Helmke, Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun violence.

ABC 7's Paul Meincke asked the mayor if the city is looking into a package of laws that would deal with many of those things Washington DC is now doing.

"Yes, we're looking at that and maybe looking at expanding that for the protection of first responders, and neighbors as well as liability," Daley said.

On that score, the city is considering requiring gun owners to carry a level of liability insurance.

"You'll have to show that you have insurance before you can purchase and register a gun, somewhat similar to what you do before you buy a car," said Prof. Harold Krent, Kent College of Law dean.

Much of what the city is working on is still on the drawing board, subject to the specifics of the high court's opinion. Whatever Chicago enacts will be challenged in court by opponents who argue that local government is just trying to subvert the Constitution with ineffective hoops and hurdles.

"Why should I be fingerprinted simply to exercise a constitutional right? It just seems like they want to treat us more like sex offenders rather than they do law-abiding citizens," said Todd Vandermyde, National Rifle Association.

The one-gun-a-month provision would require state legislative approval for it to occur in Chicago, and the votes have never been there for that. Washington is a bit different in that it's a federal enclave. Its new gun regulations have already been challenged in federal court, and the district court in DC has ruled that they do satisfy the Constitution.


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