Chicago Alderman Richard Mell owns a variety of shotguns, rifles, and pistols, but forgot to re-register them, which makes the handguns permanently illegal and unregisterable under Chicago law. Since he wants to keep his handguns, he is proposing a 1 month registration amnesty period. The catch? It would only apply to people who happened to have failed to re-register in the same time frame as him. Chicago’s Mayor Daley endorses this plan, which is designed to benefit an influential alderman, while the vast majority of Chicago’s law abiding citizens will be left without the ability to keep a handgun to defend themselves.
For more than 20 years, Chicago has required that all firearms be registered, and if the yearly registration lapses for a handgun, that gun become illegal and can never be re-registered. Chicago also banned new handgun registration for over 20 years, which means that unless a citizen had a handgun before the ban, and has re-registered it every year, an ordinary Chicago citizen cannot have a handgun. Long guns can still be registered. That is how Chicago’s handgun ban, and draconian restrictions on long gun ownership, work.
Chicago Alderman Richard Mell owns a variety of guns, including handguns, rifles, and shotguns. He forgot to re-register them on time, and was thus prohibited by law from possessing them in Chicago. Alderman Mell admitted that he knew about the re-registration requirement, and should have complied with the law. Mell stated that he delegated the responsibility to a staff member of his, who apparently failed to complete the registration. Unlike ordinary citizens of Chicago, who would have to accept that fact that they could never again lawfully own their handguns, Alderman Richard Mell decided to use his political power for personal gain. Alderman Mell is proposing an amnesty that would allow him, and citizens who happen to have failed to re-register between May 1, 2007 and April 1, 2008, to re-register their guns within a 1 month period.
This is an unprecedented, narrowly tailored, amnesty, crafted by a politician who wants to legally keep his guns, while denying the right to the overwhelming majority of Chicago’s law abiding citizens. It would not allow people whose registration just lapsed to re-register and keep their guns. It would not allow people whose registration lapsed 2 years, 5 years, 10 years, or 20 years ago. Instead, this amnesty would allow Chicago Alderman Richard Mell to keep his guns.
Chicago’s Mayor Daley, who himself benefits from gun carrying, taxpayer sponsored bodyguards while denying Chicago citizens the right to have a handgun for self defense, endorses this idea as well. Daley claims his support is not due to the influence of Chicago Alderman Richard Mell, but due to a desire to “realistic handle on the number of guns in Chicago.” Letting just a tiny portion of the people who missed their re-registration date re-register will not give any meaningful information about the number of guns in the city of Chicago. This is because most of the people whose registration lapsed are not lucky enough to have had their registration lapse just as the influential Alderman’s registration lapsed. Even those who are lucky enough to meet the proposed amnesty requirements may not have their guns any longer, since it would be a misdemeanor for them to possess the gun at this moment. Finally, criminals didn’t have registration for their illegal guns to begin with, so they certainly aren’t going to re-register their guns that they are not allowed by law to own.
The Sun-Times story on this gun amnesty can be seen here.
Update: My thanks to Tom from Chicago who pointed out that in practice rifles and shotguns (but not handguns) can currently be re-registered in Chicago after the registration lapses, although a person possessing the unregistered guns would be committing a misdemeanor until they were re-registered.
In my opinion, though, this would conflict with section 8-20-200(c) of the Chicago Gun Ordinances, which state “Failure to comply with the requirement for renewal of registration of a firearm shall cause that firearm to become unregisterable.” Then again, Chicago has never been known for having well written and accurately enforced ordinances...
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