Chicago’s ban on firearm sales ruled unconstitutional

On December 20, 2010 Obama appointed Edmund E. Chang to be a Federal Judge on the Federal District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.  Obama probably didn’t think at the time that Judge Chang would ever write the following paragraphs in a judicial opinion:

Three Chicago residents and an association of Illinois firearms dealers brought this suit against the City of Chicago (Mayor Rahm Emanuel is sued in his official capacity, which is the same as suing the City), challenging the constitutionality of City ordinances that bans virtually all sales and transfers of firearms inside the City’s limits. The ban covers federally licensed firearms dealers; even validly licensed dealers cannot sell firearms in Chicago. The ban covers gifts amongst family members; only through inheritance can someone transfer a firearm to a family member. Chicago does all this in the name of reducing gun violence. That is one of the fundamental duties of government: to protect its citizens. The stark reality facing the City each year is thousands of shooting victims and hundreds of murders committed with a gun.

But on the other side of this case is another feature of government: certain fundamental rights are protected by the Constitution, put outside government’s reach, including the right to keep and bear arms for self-defense under the Second Amendment. This right must also include the right to acquire a firearm, although that acquisition right is far from absolute: there are many long-standing restrictions on who may acquire firearms (for examples, felons and the mentally ill have long been banned) and there are many restrictions on the sales of arms (for example, licensing requirements for commercial sales).

But Chicago’s ordinance goes too far in outright banning legal buyers and legal dealers from engaging in lawful acquisitions and lawful sales of firearms, and at the same time the evidence does not support that the complete ban sufficiently furthers the purposes that the ordinance tries to serve. For the specific reasons explained later in this opinion, the ordinances are declared unconstitutional. [emphasis in original]

The case is Illinois Association of Firearms Retailers v. The City of Chicago, January 6, 2014, No. 10 C 04184, (N.D. Ill.)  Chicago’s ban on firearm transfer provides as follows:

Municipal Code § 8-20-100, “no firearm may be sold, acquired or otherwise transferred within the city, except through inheritance of the firearm.” 

Judge Chang did not need to consult any ancient texts before he concluded that the right to keep and bear arms must necessarily include the right to acquire firearms.

The NRA-ILA website has a lengthy discussion and analysis of Judge Chang’s opinion.  It provides, in part:

Things are looking up for gun owners in Illinois.  On Monday, 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.

Read the whole thing.