Gun debate rages on

Marty Dolan, principal at Dolan Law, and his associate, Karen Munoz, represent victims of wrongful death and personal injury. His column “Law and Wellness” appears in Chicago Lawyer magazine and her column appears regularly in the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin. This week’s blog is written by Karen Munoz.

The issue of gun control has become one of the most important issues of public debate in light of the series of mass shootings in 2012, particularly the tragic Sandy Hook massacre. However, the debate on gun control was already in full swing in Illinois when the Sandy Hook school shooting occurred.  The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in early-December that Illinois’ ban on carrying a gun in public was unconstitutional. The court declared that the Second Amendment confers a right to bear arms for self-defense, which was said by the majority to be as important outside the home as inside. Until that point, Illinois was the only state to not have some form of a concealed carry provision in place. The court gave the state 180 days before the decision will be returned to the lower house to be implemented. This time period is designed to enable the legislature to take action upon the ruling.

The debate on gun control suddenly took on a new life on Dec. 14 when 20 children, along with 6 adults, were gunned down in their classrooms in Newtown, Conn. The focus in Illinois has now shifted to our elected officials and what actions they will take in order to prevent a similar disaster from occurring in this state. Attorney General Lisa Madigan submitted a motion asking that the 7th Circuit hear the matter en banc.   Madigan claims that the decision goes beyond what the U.S. Supreme Court has held and also conflicts with decisions by two other federal appellate courts. However, Madigan’s request does not affect the 180-day timeline for the drafting of a new law. The appellate court ruled that the state had not made a strong enough case that a gun ban was vital to public safety. In order to succeed at any potential rehearing, the state will have to address this matter in more detail.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel recently announced that he would introduce an ordinance on the matter of gun control after state lawmakers failed to reach agreement on the matter. The mayor has yet to give details on what he plans to do, but it is expected that he will address the issues associated with lost or stolen guns. Emanuel may take cue from current guidelines in New York. In order to purchase a gun in New York, you need photo identification, must give fingerprint samples, have four character witnesses and disclose any drug use or any history of mental illness. If you are business seeking to purchase a gun for protection, you have to submit your business tax returns, bank deposit slips and payroll information. Permits to own a gun in New York expire after 3 months.

While we cannot be sure of the shape any new gun control measures will take, we can be sure they the measures will be challenged in courts. In any event, we are just at the beginning of a long, arduous and emotive process.

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