CHICAGO, IL -- In a predictable decision, the Supreme Court ruled today that Chicago's 28-year-old handgun ban is suddenly unconstitutional. The slim five-to-four majority overturned the ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit that, in June of 2009, upheld the constitutionality of the Chicago and Oak Park handgun bans by a 3-0 decision. The challenge to Chicago's handgun ban was filed immediately after the Supreme Court stripped the District of Columbia's own handgun ban in its Heller decision in 2008.
Thom Mannard, Executive Director of the Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence issued the following statement:
"Despite the Supreme Court's ruling today it is absolutely important to emphasize that the conservative majority held that strong and effective gun laws are still constitutional and can be enacted. While we fundamentally disagree with the Court, today's decision is a major opportunity to move away from the narrow, divisive and ideological debate over the interpretation of the Second Amendment and instead work to pass common sense gun laws that will save lives and protect our communities.
"We believe this ruling affirms a host of effective laws and viable solutions to preventing gun violence. The Court's opinion clearly allows for requiring background checks on all gun sales, restricting carrying loaded guns in public, mandating gun owners to register firearms and undergo training, allowing states and municipalities to license gun dealers, regulating military-style semiautomatic assault weapons, enacting waiting periods, limiting gun sales per month, and forcing gun manufacturers to employ "microstamping" technology on all new gun sales, among other measures. Furthermore, we are confident that when the gun lobby litigates and challenges these policies the courts will ultimately uphold the constitutionality of these gun laws.
"The debate over Chicago's handgun ban is not, and never was, an abstract legal argument, but about the right of the city of Chicago and other municipalities to enact sensible solutions to keep deadly guns out of our communities. The truth is that, based on overwhelming research, allowing Chicago's residents to possess handguns will dramatically increase the risk of gun suicides, students gaining access to handguns and likely carrying them to school, and certainly unintentional shootings by toddlers and children who find weapons. Chicago was right to enact its handgun ban in 1982, and Mayor Richard Daley was justified in ardently defending the law. Now however, Chicago must quickly promulgate rules and policies to be in compliance with the Court's ruling.
"Our country continues to have misplaced priorities when it comes to violence and security. As a comparison, after nine years of fighting the war in Afghanistan, the U.S. military death toll reached the grim 1,000 mark. In Illinois alone, the same number of people die every year from gun violence. Every year 30,000 Americans die from gun violence, 70,000 people are shot and injured, and more than 350,000 people are victims of armed robbery or aggravated assault with a firearm. This sheer scale of destroyed lives and families is a national disgrace.
"Finally, the Court's ruling to eliminate Chicago's handgun ban has national implications. The gun lobby is using this decision to further its real agenda, that they want anyone to have any gun, anywhere, at any time - regardless of the proven risk to police and the public. Their unstated motive is to enhance the profits of the gun industry by encouraging individuals to believe they need a multitude of guns and are seeking nothing less than the complete dismantling of our nation's gun laws for their own political and financial gain. Lawmakers in state legislatures and in Congress must utilize the Supreme Court's decision to press for common sense gun laws for the safety and security of the America people."