Emanuel calls gun store ruling a ‘straitjacket’

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Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Thursday he will abide by a federal court ruling he views as a “straitjacket” — by allowing gun dealers to set up shop in Chicago — but needs six months to figure out where to put them.  

Aside from building a protective bubble around schools, Emanuel refused to say where he believes gun shops should be confined or how he intends to comply with Monday’s ruling and still keep illegal guns out of the hands of criminals and straw purchasers.

The mayor would only acknowledge the obvious: Monday’s ruling was the latest in a string of legal setbacks overturning Chicago gun laws and he has no desire to extend the losing streak.

“The court’s been clear — from the [U.S.] Supreme Court on down — as it relates to peoples’ access to guns. . . . There’s a number of gun laws on the books in Chicago that we have lost in court. I’m not interested in litigation for the purpose of litigation,” Emanuel said.

“The court set up a set of boundaries. . . . While we have to abide by the straitjacket the court put us under — in my view, that’s a straitjacket — it’s not like there’s a shortage of guns. People get access to guns. But I’m going to try to do it in a thoughtful way and a strategic way that doesn’t undermine what we’re trying to do in bringing a level of safety and security to the people of Chicago.” 

When a reporter pressed the mayor again on where gun shops should be confined, Emanuel refused to tip his hand.

“That’s ahead of schedule. That’s why I’ve asked for six months. . . . Obviously away from schools and areas like that. You’re ahead of yourself. I’ll try to put you on the group that thinks about it over the next four, five or six months,” he said. 

Todd Vandermyde, legislative liaison for the National Rifle Association, welcomed the mayor’s decision to throw in the towel, but not the six-month delay. “The city is becoming a little more sensical in their litigation approach, but they can figure this out a lot quicker than that,” Vandermyde said. 

“There are a lot of other towns that have gun shops. They seem to have figured out that it’s a retail business that fits in a retail zone.” 

After joining the mayor in presiding over a CompStat hearing at police headquarters, Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy noted that Chicago’s second murder of 2014 involved a legal handgun that was stolen in a burglary because the gun owner “did not properly safeguard” that weapon.

Asked what effect Chicago gun shops and transfers between individual gun owners would have on his efforts to continue a reduction in homicides and shootings in 2013, McCarthy said, “More availability. At least they don’t have to walk around the corner to buy a gun.” 

Contributing: Stefano Esposito

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