Explore The NRA Universe Of Websites

APPEARS IN Legal & Legislation

Chicago's Firearm Transfer Ban Falls to Second Amendment Ruling

Friday, January 17, 2014

Things are looking up for gun owners in Illinois.  On January 6, 2014, even as some 4,500 concealed carry applications flooded the state's online portal on its first full day of operation, Obama-appointed U.S. District Judge Edmond E. Chang of the Northern District of Illinois issued a significant opinion that invalidated Chicago's ban on firearm sales and transfers within the city. The suit was brought by the Illinois Association of Firearms Retailers and three individuals, with the backing of NRA.  

The Chicago transfer ban was part of a series of ordinances the city hastily enacted after its total ban on handgun possession was invalidated by the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals’ 2010 opinion in McDonald v. Chicago. Chicago's efforts to be the nation’s most oppressive jurisdiction for gun owners have yielded other important victories for the Second Amendment.  These included the Seventh Circuit’s holding in 2011’s Ezell v. Chicago that Chicago’s ban on discharge (notwithstanding its requirement that residents obtain live-fire training as a condition of owning a gun in the city) was unconstitutional. Other aspects of the city's wide-ranging gun control regime have been whittled down in response to litigation and the broad preemption provisions of Illinois’ recently-enacted Firearm Concealed Carry Act (the result of yet another successful Second Amendment case in the Seventh Circuit, 2011’s Shepard v. Madigan).  The transfer ban remained, however, a symbol of the same political denial and impudence that have ironically helped move the Second Amendment needle in the right direction through litigation time and again. 

The ordinance at issue flatly stated: “no firearm may be sold, acquired or otherwise transferred within the city, except through inheritance of the firearm.”  Chicago attempted to justify the ordinance by, among other things, pointing out that residents could obtain firearms outside the city’s borders.  The city also insisted that the ordinance increased the “transaction costs” of the firearms trade, making the acquisition of firearms by criminals more expensive, time-consuming, and dangerous (because they would have to travel through high-crime areas infested by rival gangs to buy guns). Chicago additionally claimed gun stores “are dangerous in and of themselves and cannot be safely regulated.”

The court called Chicago’s argument that it could ban firearm sales as long as guns were available elsewhere “profoundly mistaken.”  “Second Amendment rights,” Judge Chang wrote, “must be guaranteed within a specified geographic unit—be it city or state.” 

The court also determined that the restriction had to pass a high level of scrutiny (although not quite “strict scrutiny”), because the type of regulation at issue was unknown to the framers of the Second Amendment and because it broadly prohibited even law-abiding Chicagoans from exercising an essential component of the rights protected by the Second Amendment, the acquisition of firearms.  Regarding Chicago’s purported justification of increasing transaction costs, the court noted that the evidence showed few criminals actually purchase firearms directly from legitimate dealers. Thus, “residents who seek to legally buy a gun bear more of the share of the added transaction costs in time, effort, and danger than gang members or would-be criminals ….”  The city, the court wrote, “cannot justify its ban on legitimate gun sales and transfers with overinclusive means that impact more law-abiding citizens than criminals.”  

Examining another Chicago claim that the ban helped maintain the city’s “low household gun-ownership rate,” the court opined: “It is … doubtful that minimizing household gun ownership is, after Heller and McDonald, even a valid basis for gun regulation: possession of a gun for self-defense in the home is the core right protected by the Second Amendment, so trying to minimize the exercise of that right cannot be a valid basis for the sales-and-transfer ban.”

Demonstrating the importance of proper scrutiny, the case was distinguishable from other recent opinions applying only “intermediate scrutiny” (for example, the recent opinion largely upholding New York’s SAFE Act) by its insistence that the city do more than just produce “expert” opinions claiming the restrictions could inhibit crime. Rather, the court refused to ignore the effects the restrictions also had on law-abiding residents and legitimate activity.  According to Judge Chang: “If the City is concerned about reducing criminal access to firearms, either through legitimate retail transactions or via thefts from gun stores, it may enact more appropriately tailored measures.”

Because Chicago does not otherwise regulate firearm sales, the court on its own initiative stayed the effect of its judgment so the city could decide whether to appeal the case or pursue legislative remedies through more narrowly-tailored regulation. The city was given until January 13 to request an additional stay.

Besides paving the way for lawful firearms commerce in Chicago, Judge Chang’s decision also shows the possibilities of a court taking the Second Amendment seriously.  We will closely follow this case and continue to keep you informed of significant developments. 

TRENDING NOW
Don’t Say They Didn’t Warn You: Left Leaning Voices Question Democrats’ Anti-Gun Proposals, Fervor

News  

Friday, June 7, 2019

Don’t Say They Didn’t Warn You: Left Leaning Voices Question Democrats’ Anti-Gun Proposals, Fervor

If the 2020 Democrat presidential primary is any indication, that party’s base and donor class will accept nothing less from their nominee than commitments to sweeping gun control. And the contenders appear happy to accommodate ...

Obama Lies about Guns… Again

News  

Friday, June 14, 2019

Obama Lies about Guns… Again

Despite no longer living in the White House, former President Barack Obama continues to be a headache to law-abiding Americans. On May 30, Obama spoke at a digital innovation event in Brazil. During the onstage ...

Governor Abbott Signs Ten Pro-Second Amendment Bills into Law

Monday, June 17, 2019

Governor Abbott Signs Ten Pro-Second Amendment Bills into Law

Governor Greg Abbott has now signed all of the NRA-supported legislation which the Texas Legislature sent him during the 2019 session.

Pittsburgh Mayor Presents DICK’S CEO an Award for Gun Control Advocacy

News  

Friday, June 14, 2019

Pittsburgh Mayor Presents DICK’S CEO an Award for Gun Control Advocacy

On June 4-5, the annual Yale Mayors College & CEO Summit was held in New York City. The theme of this year’s CEO Summit was “Trumpeting the Issues without Becoming the Issue: Selective Use of CEO Voice.” ...

Advice Columnist Tells Father to Evict Daughter from His House for Owning a Gun

News  

Friday, June 14, 2019

Advice Columnist Tells Father to Evict Daughter from His House for Owning a Gun

Amy Dickinson is an advice columnist who, according to the company that syndicates her work, “combines storytelling with advice that is rooted with honesty and trust.” “Ask Amy” appears in newspapers that include The Baltimore Sun, ...

Bloomberg Course: Ineffective Policies and Non-Existent Technology

News  

Friday, June 14, 2019

Bloomberg Course: Ineffective Policies and Non-Existent Technology

This week in the online course “Reducing Gun Violence in America: Evidence for Change” is a real rollercoaster. Week Five is titled “Regulating Gun Design, Enforcing Gun Laws, and Reducing Police-Involved Shootings” covers so-called assault ...

I wish the gay community were more accepting of gun supporters. I should know.

WashingtonPost.com  

Monday, June 17, 2019

I wish the gay community were more accepting of gun supporters. I should know.

Last June, I attended my first Pride parade. I’m a 24-year-old gay man, and the downtown D.C. event came two months after I started my new job as social media manager for the National Rifle Association. ...

New Jersey “Smart Gun” Law Gets an F Grade

News  

Friday, June 14, 2019

New Jersey “Smart Gun” Law Gets an F Grade

After signing six gun control measures into law a year ago, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy warned that “Our work is far from done.” Several new bills are now making the rounds in a state already notorious ...

Nevada: Gov. Sisolak Signs Anti-Gun Bill

Friday, June 14, 2019

Nevada: Gov. Sisolak Signs Anti-Gun Bill

Ignoring the constitutional rights of law-abiding Nevadans, on June 14th, Governor Steve Sisolak signed omnibus anti-gun Assembly Bill 291 into law.  Your NRA would like to thank the many lawmakers who stood with our members and ...

California: Anti-Gun bills still moving forward and more scheduled to be heard next week

Friday, June 14, 2019

California: Anti-Gun bills still moving forward and more scheduled to be heard next week

Next Tuesday, June 18, the Senate Public Safety Committee is scheduled to hear anti-gun bills, AB 12 and AB 61.  On Wednesday, June 19, the Assembly Appropriations Committee has scheduled Senate Bill 220. 

MORE TRENDING +
LESS TRENDING -

More Like This From Around The NRA

NRA ILA

Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.