Win for Chicago gun owners, City Council rewrites gun laws

The National Rifle Association is claiming victory today after the Chicago City Council tentatively approved a rewrite of the city’s onerous gun laws that were passed in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in the McDonald v. Chicago case (2010), which effectively overturned Chi-Town’s ban on handguns.

While the full City Council will officially vote on the changes on Wednesday, it’s believed that they’ll stick because of the state’s recently passed concealed carry law, a “shall-issue” statue that allows law-abiding citizens to carry concealed firearms in public provided they pass a background check, pay a $150 fee and take a 16-hour firearms training course.

NRA lobbyist Todd Vandermyde called it a “great day for gun owners” in the Windy City.

“Mayor Daley’s pinnacle handgun ordinance after the loss in the McDonald decision is now, for all intents and purposes, gutted,” Vandermyde said.

“The Chicago firearms permit requirements are gone. The registration of all firearms, for the first time in my lifetime, are gone. Those are some significant developments.”

Though, Vandermyde admitted that the battle is not over just yet, as the city still bans laser sights, metal-piercing bullets, magazines that hold more than 10 rounds of ammo and certain semiautomatic rifles with distinctive cosmetic characteristics or so-called “assault weapons.”

We “have some more work to do, we’ll get to that, but this is a good first step,” noted Vandermyde.

During the proceedings there was a spat between Vandermyde and Alderman Edward M. Burke over another ordinance that will remain unchanged, the city mandate that requires gun owners to secure their weapons with trigger locks or in safes if the firearm is “not on their person” and they have someone under the age of 18 in the home.

“Do you think a 75-year-old woman should be forced to carry her .38 around on her hip in her home every minute she’s in her home because the grandkids are there?” Vandermyde asked.

Burke, the author and sponsor of the trigger-lock ordinance responded, “So you’re against an ordinance that mandates, if you have a gun in your house, it ought to be secure. …You oppose an ordinance that tries to increase safety in the homes in Chicago?”

Vandermyde fired back, “We don’t oppose safety measures by and large. But we see these as being impediments to the lawful use of self-defense. For 30 years, your city did not allow somebody to have a handgun in their own home for self-defense.”

Vandermyde noted that state law requires trigger locks and safes if children under 14 are present, explaining that the city law of 17 and under is excessive.

Moreover, he criticized the city law for allowing the police to press charges against a parent or guardian for violating the child-safety protections regardless of whether one is injured. Under state law, a parent or guardian can only charged if someone is killed or injured as a result of the unsecured firearm.

“It’s common sense that you have a trigger lock on a weapon that’s in your house where you have minors,” said Public Safety Committee Chairman Jim Balcer, as reported by the Chicago Sun-Times. “That minor can pick up that weapon, hurt themselves, hurt someone else.”

Stricken from the books if the full city council agrees:

  • The registration of an owner’s guns
  • Required 5 hours of training
  • Transporting legal firearms can be prosecuted, vehicle impounded
  • Using a legal firearm for protection only within the four corners of your home
  • Ban on use of real firearms on stage or movie set

Source: CBS Chicago / Chicago Tribune

Still on the books:

  • Ban on gun shops within city limits
  • Ban on laser sights
  • Ban on magazines holding more than 10 rounds
  • Ban on so-called assault weapons
  • Requiring trigger locks on guns in the home

Source: CBS Chicago / Chicago Tribune

Following the meeting, Vandermyde responded to the contentiousness between him and Burke, who is also pushing to pass an ordinance that would force Chicago restaurants that serve liquor to ban firearms.

“He’s been a little unhappy about my comments to the press about the fact that he receives taxpayer-funded bodyguards. He doesn’t like the fact that we’re calling him out on it,” Vandermyde told the Sun-Times.

“He thinks it’s fine to have bodyguards follow him around and carry in restaurants. But the average citizen should be treated like some second-class citizen because they don’t get taxpayer-funded bodyguards.”

Meanwhile, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is pushing his “Safe Zones” ordinance, which would increase jail time and fines for transporting or using firearms around public buses and trains.

“As a city, we have a responsibility to protect riders of buses and trains, especially the many students who rely on the CTA as a key mode of transportation, from the dangers of gun violence,” Emanuel said in a statement.

“I am very pleased the Public Safety Committee has taken the next step in creating new Public Transportation Safety Zones and increasing penalties for serious weapon and gun-related offenses near bus stops, bus shelters and El stations and on buses and trains.”

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