A Short History of Chicago's Battles With The Courts Over Gun Control

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A federal judge Monday ruled against Chicago's ordinance banning gun sales within the city, and it's far from the first time the courts have challenged Chicago's tough gun control measures. Here's a timeline of Chicago's duel with the justice system over who can buy and sell guns, starting with the event that triggered it all.

1963: President John F. Kennedy is shot and assassinated.

1967: Mayor Richard J. Daley urges the state to pass a law requiring the registration of all guns, but the Illinois General Assembly approves a Republican compromise, which instead of registering every gun, required the state to register gun owners with the Firearm Owners Identification Card.

1968: Daley’s City Council orders the registration of all firearms in Chicago.

1972: Mayor Daley takes a stand against gun rights activists before U.S. House subcommittees on gun violence. He then creates a special court to process gun crimes. Murder rates in the city are increasing.

1973: Various citizen groups like the Committee for Handgun Control form to lobby city politicians to pass tough gun control laws.

1981: Morton Grove, a suburb of Chicago with 25,000 residents at the time, becomes the first municipality in the U.S. to ban the sale, transportation and ownership of handguns. The ordinance is immediately challenged in court, and U.S. District Judge Bernard Decker rules the ordinance is valid.

1982: Mayor Jane Byrne and the city council begin hearings on an ordinance proposed by alderman Ed Burke that would ban the sale and registration of hand guns in Chicago. The ordinance passes. Chicago becomes the first major U.S.  city to freeze handgun ownership. Chicago suburbs begin passing similar bans.

1983: The U.S. Supreme Court refuses to hear a separate federal suit challenging Morton Grove’s 1981 ban.

1984: The Illinois State Supreme Court upholds Morton Grove’s 1981 ban.

1992: The Chicago city council, led by Mayor Richard M. Daley (son of J. Daley), bans assault weapons.

2008: A federal judge upholds Chicago’s 1982 ban. Hours after the ruling, the National Rifle Association and the Illinois State Rifle Association file lawsuits seeking to overturn handgun bans in Chicago and suburbs.

2010: The U.S. Supreme Court strikes down Chicago’s 1982 gun ownership ban (McDonald v. Chicago), concluding that the Constitution gives individuals greater or equal power with states on the issue of possession of certain firearms for protection. A community activist who sought a hand gun to protect himself and his family from gang violence filed the appeal.

2010: Chicago responds by approving alternative methods of restricting who can have guns, including obtaining a permit by completing a training course and background check and paying a $100 fee.

2012: Federal appeals court forces Illinois to pass a law allowing residents to carry concealed weapons.

2013: U.S. District Judge Edmond E. Chang rules Chicago’s ordinance banning gun sales violates the Constitution. The effects of his ruling are delayed while the city decides whether to appeal. 

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