On Monday, June 28, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Chicago’s 28-year-old handgun ban unconstitutional. Over the next four days, Mayor Daley muscled the Chicago City Council into passing a hastily drafted ordinance that places a whole new set of limitations and regulations on gun ownership in the city.
The “Responsible Gun Ownership” ordinance allows any adult in Chicago with a clean record to register one handgun a month for self-defense at home—but only one gun at a time can be “assembled and operable,” and the owner can’t take it out of the home, even into the backyard. The weapons have to be registered with the state and city, and their owners must be trained and fingerprinted. Guns in homes where minors live have to be locked away or equipped with trigger locks. And anyone convicted of a gun offense is required to disclose the information in a publicly accessible registry modeled after those for convicted sex offenders.
For Daley, though, the mere existence of the ordinance was far more significant than its contents. Quick passage of a new gun-control law was the mayor’s top priority in the wake of the Supreme Court decision: he wanted to announce, in the strongest voice possible, that not even the highest court in the land was going to keep him from regulating guns in his own city. Gun control has been a very successful political strategy for Daley—if not a successful crime-fighting strategy.