BELLEVUE, WA – A ruling overturning part of Chicago’s Firearm Ordinance on Second Amendment grounds reinforces the principle that people should not be denied the exercise of their right to keep and bear arms even if they’ve been convicted of a non-violent misdemeanor, the Second Amendment Foundation said today.
The ruling by District Judge Samuel Der-Yeghiayan found part of the ordinance to be unconstitutionally vague and in violation of the Second Amendment. He struck down the section that prohibited Chicago residents from obtaining a city firearm permit if they have been “convicted by a court in any jurisdiction of …an unlawful use of a weapon that is a firearm.” But plaintiff Shawn Gowder argued that his misdemeanor conviction for unlawful firearms possession in August 1995 should not prevent him from being able to obtain a city permit. The court noted that Gowder had obtained an Illinois Firearm Owner’s Identification (FOID) card, so he was not among the “persons who are not qualified to acquire or possess firearms” in Illinois.
“It’s one more victory for the Second Amendment,” said SAF Executive Vice President Alan Gottlieb. “This ruling affirms that people should not forever lose their gun rights over simple, non-violent offenses. If we allowed that, pretty soon people would be losing their Second Amendment rights for getting a speeding ticket.”
In his ruling, which referred to SAF’s winning case, Ezell v. City of Chicago, Judge Der-Yeghiayan significantly noted, “…this court finds that the strict scrutiny balancing test would be the most appropriate test to apply in (this) case, since ‘the right to possess guns is a core enumerated constitutional right’.”
The judge further wrote, “There is something incongruent about a non-violent person, who is not a felon, but who is convicted of a misdemeanor offense of simple possession of a firearm, being forever barred from exercising his constitutional right to defend himself in his own home in Chicago against felons or violent criminals. The same Constitution that protects people’s right to bear arms prohibits this type of indiscriminate and arbitrary governmental regulation.”
“We’re proud that Judge Der-Yeghiayan referred to the Ezell case in his opinion,” Gottlieb said. “We will continue our efforts to win back firearms freedom one lawsuit at a time.”