Politicians in the nation's reigning murder capital lost again in federal court Monday with U.S. District Court Judge Edmond Chang's ruling that Chicago's ban on gun sales violates the Second Amendment.
"[Chicago] has not demonstrated that allowing gun sales and transfers within city limits creates such genuine and serious risks to public safety that flatly prohibiting them is justified," the 2010 Obama appointee wrote in his 35-page opinion.
Chang stayed implementation of his ruling pending appeal. If it is upheld by appellate courts, the ruling will allow the private transfer of guns in Chicago and allow licensed stores to open.
But if the ruling is upheld, legal gun purchases wouldn't necessarily become easy. Chang says the city can chose a more tailored restriction "short of the complete ban" and Illinois residents already face some of the most onerous gun-ownership requirements.
In order to possess or purchase a gun - or buy ammunition - in Illinois, you must have a valid Firearm Owner Identification (FOID) card, which must be renewed every 10 years. Felons, people convicted of domestic violence or residents subject to protective orders are not allowed to have a FOID card.
On Sunday Illinois became the final state to allow residents to apply for concealed carry permits, but that process allows local law enforcement to object to applicants for any reason. Applicants must receive additional gun training and surrender access to their mental health records.
Some of the most intractable gun control advocates, including leaders of the Cook County Sheriff's Office, point to Chicago's high murder rate – with 412 killings in 2013 – and say they'd like to object to as many concealed carry applicants as they may plausibly worry about. The objections are then heard by a seven-person state review board.
Chicago's gun control measures have faced legal challenges for years.
In 2010 two cases – McDonald v. Chicago and NRA v. Chicago – were heard by the Supreme Court, which reaffirmed that the Second Amendment applied to the states.
In a 2012 ruling, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit found a Chicago law requiring gun owners to train at a shooting range – while also banning city shooting ranges – unconstitutional.
The new concealed carry law was drafted after the federal appeals court ordered state legislators to write it in a December 2012 ruling . But the state doesn't offer reciprocity to out-of-state concealed carry registrants, meaning its a crime to carry a gun registered elsewhere into Illinois.
It's unclear if Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel's office will appeal the latest court decision, or instead attempt to craft new rules for stores that establish a de facto ban.
"We need stronger gun safety laws, not increased access to firearms within the city," Roderick Drew, a spokesman for the city's Law Department, said in a statement reported by the Chicago Tribune.
A lobbyist for the National Rifle Association, however, said the writing is on the wall.
"The city is going to have to allow retail gun shops to operate and they are going to have to allow individuals to transfer firearms in normal transactions," Todd Vandermyde told the Tribune. "So the question now is: How much more money does Rahm [Emanuel] want to spend fighting it?"