Chicago moves quickly to propose tough new gun ordinance after high court ruling dooms gun ban

Chicago Mayor Richard Daley will push for a strict handgun ordinance to replace its doomed gun ban that will likely include limiting each resident to a single handgun, requiring gun owners to have insurance and prohibiting gun stores from setting up shop in the city, his top lawyer said Tuesday.

A day after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Americans have a right to own a gun for self-defense anywhere they live — a ruling that certainly means the end of Chicago's 28-year-old gun ban — Corporation Counsel Mara Georges moved quickly to alert a City Council committee of plans to propose a new gun ordinance.

Her appearance before the committee was the latest step in an effort that Daley's office has been working on since the court struck down a similar ban in Washington, D.C., two years ago.

Daley clearly wants to put a new ordinance in place quickly, perhaps well before an appellate court does as instructed by the Supreme Court and reviews the city's gun ban. Georges said she hopes to present an ordinance to the council committee by the end of the week.

Georges also said any new provisions the city puts in place will be able to withstand legal challenges that are sure to crop up when the new ordinance is ultimately passed, pointing out that the court ruled that "reasonable restrictions" on firearms do not violate the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.

She said that limiting Chicago residents to one handgun would pass constitutional muster. Nowhere has the court determined that "a person is entitled to more than one handgun," she said. "And one handgun is sufficient for self defense."

She said banning gun shops in the city is another reasonable restriction. She said studies have shown a disproportionate number of shootings near gun shops and because there are dozens of gun shops in the Chicago area — 40 in Cook County alone — a ban would not inconvenience gun buyers.

But one gun rights supporter said many of Georges' suggestions all but assure a legal battle, calling them "preposterous" and a violation of gun owners' civil rights.

Owning a gun, said David Workman of the Bellevue, Washington-based Second Amendment Foundation, "is a civil right and you can't limit a civil right." He also said it would be illegal to single out gun shops just because the merchandise they sell might poise a danger to residents.

"Ask her how many drug stores in Chicago were ripped off in the last few years by somebody who needs a high," he said.

Council members seemed eager to pass a tough new ordinance that Georges also said might prohibit those convicted of two or more times of drunken driving or drug offenses from possessing a handgun and could require Chicagoans in homes with children to secure guns in a locked box or equip them with trigger locks.

One alderman, Edward Burke, suggested that Chicago follow the lead of some other cities by requiring those convicted of gun offenses to register with the city just as convicted sex offenders are required to do.

Another, Fredrenna Lyle, voiced her support for requiring gun owners have some kind of insurance, saying that the city already requires those with dogs deemed dangerous to beef up their insurance.

"I don't think there is anything that is more dangerous than a firearm in the hands of someone that has no training and no ability and no knowledge," she said.

When the court's decision was announced Monday, gun rights supporters said they would challenge any attempt to require insurance, saying, for example, that if it costs too much money it would amount to discrimination of the city's poorer residents. On Tuesday, Georges said the city was still grappling with such a requirement and has not yet figured out how it would work in way that is not too expensive.