Mayor Rahm Emanuel proposes to curb increasing gun violence in Chicago by imposing strict regulations on gun shops located within city limits, which would include videotaping all sales on the premises. The mandatory videotaping of gun buyers is being seen as an effort to deter customers from using false identification, besides discouraging gun traffickers.
The proposed regulations would also make it mandatory for store employees to pass criminal background checks and undergo training that would help them identify potential gun traffickers. Additionally, under Emanuels’s proposed plans, no gun shop can open within 500 feet of a park or school, which effectively reduces possible locations to less the .5 percent of metropolitan Chicago. These recommendations were based on a collaborative report that was created by the Emanuel administration, the Chicago Police department and the University of Chicago Crime Lab.
Another provision would require potential gun store owners to get approval from the police for their businesses’ security plans. To pass muster, the premises would need exterior lighting, high-tech alarm systems, strategically located surveillance cameras, and a secured storage area for guns and ammunition. Additionally, gun retailers are mandated to keep all their logs of sales information, which could potentially be inspected by the police “at all reasonable times.” In an effort to limit the number of guns sold, Emanuel wants to restrict handgun sales to no more than one piece a month to a single individual. The plan also imposes a 72-hour waiting period to buy handguns and a 24-hour waiting period to buy rifles and shotguns.
After introducing the ordinance at the City Council meeting, Emanuel called it “tough, smart and . . . enforceable.” Whether it is enforceable or not, the one measure that is sure to be scrutinized by gun rights advocates is where Emanuel proposes videotaping all gun sales in Chicago. Keeping a record of all transactions on video is likely to raise the hackles of gun enthusiasts and privacy advocates. However, the Chicago mayor believes that the ordinance is on solid legal ground and compares it with financial institutions recording people, while they use the ATM.
These stringent proposals come in the aftermath of a recent federal court ruling that overturned a longstanding ban against the opening of gun stores in Chicago by licensed dealers, and gave the city until July 14 to generate gun store rules. Given its strict measures, many critics are calling the new ordinance a draconian step that would raise the bar for opening retail gun stores in the city to an unreachable standard. In other words, the proposal would allow a legal meander around the court’s ruling and effectively continue the ban against gun stores.
Chicago has seen rising gun crimes in recent years and has been the centerpiece of national debates on gun control. In 2013, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) named Chicago the murder capital of the United States, with more recorded homicides in the previous year than any other American city. Calling gun violence Chicago’s “most urgent problem,” Emanuel said during a police awards ceremony, “Now that we’re required to allow gun sales within the city limits we do it in a way that does not undermine our public safety goals.”
Agreeing with Emanuel, Alderman Joe Moreno (D) said the tough ordinance was needed, given the headline grabbing gun violence that was plaguing the city. “When it comes to guns and gun violence, I think we need to err on the side of being stricter [and] push the envelope of the legalities of it,” said Moreno.
Commenting on Emanuel’s ordinance, which among its other measures, proposes the videotaping of all Chicago gun sales, Richard Pearson, the executive director of the Illinois State Rifle Association, said that if it became law, it was likely to be challenged in court.
By Monalisa Gangopadhyay