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US Federal judge declares Chicago's ban on gun sales unconstitutional

CHICAGO--A federal judge on Monday overturned Chicago's ban on the sale and transfer of firearms, ruling that the city's ordinances aimed at reducing gun violence are unconstitutional.

U.S. District Judge Edmond E. Chang said in his ruling that while the government has a duty to protect its citizens, it's also obligated to protect constitutional rights, including the right to keep and bear arms for self-defense. However, Chang said he would temporarily stay the effects of his ruling, meaning the ordinances can stand while the city decides whether to appeal.

The decision is just the latest to attack what were some of the toughest gun-control laws in the U.S. In 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Chicago's long-standing gun ban. And last year, Illinois legislators were forced by a federal appeals court to adopt a law allowing residents to carry concealed weapons in Illinois, the only state that still banned the practice. The resulting state law largely stripped city and officials of surrounding Cook County of their authority to regulate guns, which especially irked officials in Chicago, where residents had to apply for concealed-carry permits through the police chief.

Todd Vandermyde, a lobbyist for the National Rifle Association, an influential gun rights group, applauded Chang's decision, saying the fact a federal judge appointed by President Barack Obama “ruled in favor of the Second Amendment, shows how out of step and outrageous Chicago's ordinances really are.” The Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees “the right of the people to keep and bear arms.”

Roderick Drew, a spokesman for Chicago's law department, said Mayor Rahm Emanuel disagrees with Chang's ruling and has instructed the city's lawyer to consider options to regulate gun sales.

“Every year Chicago police recover more illegal guns than officers in any city in the country, a factor of lax federal laws as well as lax laws in Illinois and surrounding states,” Drew said. “We need stronger gun safety laws, not increased access to firearms within the city.”

Chang's ruling came in a lawsuit filed by the Illinois Association of Firearms Retailers and three Chicago residents. The judge noted Chicago's ban covers not only federally licensed firearms dealers, but also gifts among family members, all in the name of reducing gun violence.

Chang wrote that the third-largest U.S. city “goes too far in outright banning legal buyers and legal dealers from engaging in lawful acquisitions and lawful sales of firearms, and at the same time the evidence does not support that the complete ban sufficiently furthers the purposes that the ordinance tries to serve.”

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