Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel was undaunted by a federal judge’s decision to overturn a city firearm ordinance, telling reporters on Wednesday that he would do whatever it takes to ensure the Windy City’s tough gun laws remain intact.
The topic of gun control was raised because last week U.S. District Judge Samuel Der-Yeghiayan ruled that a section of an ordinance that denies Chicagoans a gun permit if the resident has a certain prior misdemeanor conviction is “unconstitutionally void for vagueness.”
The plaintiff in the case was Shawn Gowder, who was convicted of unlawful use of a firearm Illinois in 1995. Now, “unlawful use of a firearm” sounds bad, but under Chicago municipal code, it includes anyone caught possessing a firearm without a permit. Such was the case with Gowder.
“The only thing that Mr. Gowder did was to own a firearm as he was entitled to do under the Second Amendment. As a result of that he was treated as a criminal by the City of Chicago when all he did was exercise his fundamental Second Amendment rights,” his attorney, Stephen A. Kolodziej, told the Chicago Sun-Times.
“We think the City of Chicago’s actions in denying Mr. Gowder a firearm permit were punitive and draconian as well as violative of his Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.”
Gowder does have a state issued FOID card (Firearm Owner’s Identification), but was denied a Chicago permit because of his prior conviction.
“There is something incongruent about a nonviolent person, who is not a felon, but who is convicted of a misdemeanor offense of simple possession of a firearm, being forever barred from exercising his constitutional right to defend himself in his own home in Chicago against felons or violent criminals,” Der-Yeghiayan wrote in his 30-page ruling. “The same constitution that protects people’s right to bear arms prohibits this type of indiscriminate and arbitrary governmental regulation.”
Emanuel declined to say whether he would have his team file an appeal or simply draft a new law that has the same effect, adding that he’s awaiting a recommendation from Corporation Counsel Stephen Patton. Either way, he vowed to preserve the integrity of this particular firearm ordinance.
“We will adjust,” Emanuel told reporters. “I’m waiting for Steve’s comments, but we will do whatever we need to do to continue to pursue getting guns off our streets and out of the hands of gang-bangers and drug dealers.”
In the past, Emanuel has championed his aggressive stance on gun control.
“The reason we have gun laws — the reason I’m trying to also pass tougher gun laws down in Springfield — is because it’s an essential complement to your overall crime strategy,” Emanuel said at an earlier news conference.
Despite a small uptick in the number of guns confiscated by Chicago PD, the city’s homicide rate increased 35 percent this year. Shootings are up approximately 11 percent.
“You cannot have just more cops on the street. It’s part of a comprehensive strategy you’ve heard me talk about,” the Mayor continued. “…Our crime strategy is putting more police on the street and getting kids, guns and drugs off the street” (see CNN interview).
Emanuel certainly has a loud bark, but he is also not afraid to bite. Earlier this year he backed a bill that would have instituted a statewide handgun registry, where gun owners would have to forfeit personal information and pay a $65 per gun registration fee. Thankfully, the bill did not garner much support with lawmakers outside the 312.
What’s clear in all of this is that Emanuel will not compromise on his pro-gun control agenda. Like New York City Michael Bloomberg, Emanuel is resolved to criminalize gun ownership. But fortunately they can be stopped. All we need to do is vote em out of office – who’s down?