Chicago aldermen agree to water down tough gun law

September 9, 2013

Flickr/Mason
Chicago City Hall

A Chicago City Council committee Monday passed changes to the city’s handgun laws to make way for concealed carry in Illinois.

There wasn’t much debating the pages of changes to the long-standing, strict gun laws -- just a bit of grumbling from some members of the Public Safety Committee over giving up some legislative powers to Springfield.

State lawmakers passed a concealed carry law this summer, making Illinois the last state in the nation to allow public possession of concealed guns. Illinois Governor Pat Quinn attempted an amendatory veto of the bill, adding provisions that kept guns out of businesses that serve alcohol, and that required places that allowed guns to post signs saying so, among others. Both chambers voted in July to override his changes.

If the revised gun laws pass the full city council, licensed owners won’t have to register their guns with the city anymore, and they won’t be required to obtain city permits. Aldermen also signed off on additional penalties for anyone who violates gun laws within 100 feet of any Chicago Transit Authority bus stop or train station.

National Rifle Association lobbyist Todd Vandermyde said he’s pleased with the changes, for the most part.

“What they did was - Mayor Daley’s pinnacle handgun ordinance after the loss of the McDonald decision is now for all intents and purposes gutted,” Vandermyde said. “And I think that’s a great day for gun owners in the city of Chicago and the state of Illinois.

In 2010, Mayor Richard M Daley pushed strict gun restrictions through the City Council, just days after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the city’s ban on handgun ownership through McDonald v City of Chicago.

Vandermyde said he has a few hangups with the law. For example, the revised city ordinance would still require households with minors to lock up their guns, with a trigger lock or otherwise. Vandermyde said decisions on appropriate gun-safety measures should be left up to family members.

The city council has picked up a number of concealed carry-related issues since returning from their summer break. The Finance Committee Friday passed a measure sponsored by Ald. Ed Burke (14) that would ban guns in businesses that serve alcohol. The NRA says the measure could bring on some legal challenges. Mayor Rahm Emanuel has thrown his support behind the proposal, and his office says they’d support aldermen with any “legal or implementation issues” that arise.

The City Council is expected to vote on both measures Wednesday.

Lauren Chooljian is a WBEZ producer/reporter. Follow her @laurenchooljian.