CHICAGO (AP) — Facing a climbing homicide rate, Chicago is poised for another fight over handguns — just two years after the last one.
When the U.S. Supreme Court nullified the city's 28-year-old handgun ban in 2010, Chicago responded by passing one of the nation's toughest handgun ordinances. And city officials sounded ready Thursday for another battle after a federal appeals court tossed out Illinois' ban on carrying concealed weapons this week.
Even as aldermen urged Attorney General Lisa Madigan to appeal the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals' decision, they suggested the City Council might push through a city ordinance that restricts who can carry a concealed weapon. After that, Alderman Joe Moore said, Chicago would do what it did for years with its handgun ban: Defend it in court.
"I believe that the city would be well within its rights to prohibit that (concealed weapons) within its borders, and then we'll take that up to the Supreme Court," Moore said.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel, stopping short of discussing any possible ordinance and declining to offer advice to Madigan, made it clear he was ready to face off with the gun lobby.
"I have fought this industry time and again," Emanuel told reporters Wednesday afternoon. He used the word "fought" a half-dozen times, listing his efforts to get gun legislation enacted as a congressman and an advisor for President Bill Clinton.
Emanuel also said he'd already offered Madigan whatever legal help from the city she might need in appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court.
At the same time, Emanuel promised that in the 180 days Illinois lawmakers were given to pass a concealed carry bill, he would be a "strong advocate ... for sensible gun laws to make sure we can protect people, the kids, the residents of the city of Chicago from both guns and gangs."
Gun rights advocates have long argued that Illinois' ban violates the Second Amendment right to bear arms for self-defense, and that recent Supreme Court rulings have ruled in their favor.
Neither Emanuel nor City Council members detailed what they'll do in response to Tuesday's ruling. But there is little doubt that Chicago officials will do something given the heightened concerns about escalating gang violence and a homicide rate that is about 20 percent higher than last year — and could very well pass 500 deaths by Dec. 31.