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Mayors Support Right to Enact Sensible Gun Legislation
Join Chicago Mayor Daley in Advance of Supreme Court Argument on City's Gun Ban

By Laura DeKoven Waxman
February 1, 2010

Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley was joined by approximately ten mayors and representatives of several national organizations in a January 21 press conference to discuss the challenge to Chicago's ordinance banning handguns. The constitutionality of the ordinance has been challenged by the Illinois State Rifle Association. The U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments in the case March 2.

"Today, we stand here on behalf of the people of Chicago and the United States who have been victims of gun violence, on behalf of their families and loved ones and on behalf of all those who believe our strict gun legislation as drafted is constitutional," Daley said. "And as you can see from the representation here today many people agree with us."

Seventeen friends of the court briefs representing 167 individuals and organizations have been filed in support of the Chicago's position. The U.S. Conference of Mayors filed a brief, as did a number of individual cities.

Rochester (NY) Mayor Robert Duffy, Chair of the Conference's Criminal and Social Justice Committee, suggested that those who oppose the Chicago law have never been out on the street with the family of a 15-year-old child who has just been shot. "No one knows better than Mayor Daley what's best for his city, and that it's important that Chicago should be able to keep its ban in place," he said.

Also joining Daley were several mayors whose cities' gun laws have been challenged. San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom commented that his city's laws — including ones outlawing cop-killer bullets and requiring trigger locks — have similarly been targeted by the National Rifle Association. Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter discussed the sensible gun laws passed by his city, which were challenged by the NRA and struck down by the Commonwealth Court, including a ban on assault weapons and a requirement that lost and stolen weapons be reported.

Columbus (OH) Mayor Michael Coleman recounted how the NRA had moved its annual conference from Columbus after the city enacted an assault weapons ban. He had told the NRA that they had "made my day."

Other mayors who joined Daley in the press conference were Elizabeth (NJ) Mayor J. Christian Bollwage, Providence (RI) Mayor David N. Cicilline, Oakland (CA) Mayor Ron Dellums, Laredo (TX) Mayor Raul Salinas, Evanston (IL) Mayor Elizabeth B. Tisdahl, Riviera Beach (FL) Mayor Thomas A. Masters, and North Miami Mayor André Pierre.

Chicago's ordinance, enacted in 1982, prohibits the sale and possession of handguns in the city. Individuals who legally owned handguns at the time the ordinance was passed were allowed to keep them as long they registered the guns annually with the Chicago Police Department. There are limited exceptions to this ordinance, including peace officers and members of the military. Any illegal guns confiscated by the Chicago Police Department are destroyed. Since 1982, Chicago has enacted additional, common'sense gun control legislation, including trigger-lock requirements and ordinances prohibiting automatic and semi-automatic weapons and certain types of ammunition. Long barreled rifles and shotguns are legal in Chicago, but must also be registered annually with the Police Department.