Chicago and some of its suburbs kept handgun bans on their books for nearly 30 years before the Supreme Court struck the laws down in its 2010 decision in McDonald v. City of Chicago. Now, the city and suburban Oak Park have been forced to repay the NRA’s legal fees in McDonald and related cases—to the tune of more than $1.4 million dollars.
The fees were recovered under a federal law that requires governments to pay the legal fees of “prevailing parties” in litigation to enforce federal civil rights laws. Chicago and Oak Park repealed their handgun bans after the McDonald decision, then tried to claim that the plaintiffs challenging the laws weren’t “prevailing parties.” Ironically, when a federal appeals court rejected that argument, it just drove up the governments’ tab due to the expense of the additional litigation.
And for a final touch of poetic justice, Chicago’s check was signed by none other than Mayor Rahm Emanuel—former chief of staff to President Barack Obama and anti-gun congressman, and one-time ringleader of gun control activities in the Clinton White House. Maybe Emanuel wishes he could do things over again, and spend that money fighting Chicago’s rising homicide rate. But we wouldn’t count on it.