Mayor Rahm Emanuel is proposing limiting the locations where gun shops can open in Chicago and requiring them to videotape all sales. | Michael Scmidt/Sun-Times Media
Plan for city gun shops would limit sites, require sales be taped
Mayor Rahm Emanuel is proposing a far-reaching ordinance that would keep gun stores out of most parts of the city and require them to videotape every sale to deter customers from buying firearms for crooks.
The ordinance is a response to a federal judge’s ruling in January that Chicago’s longtime ban on gun stores was unconstitutional.
Emanuel chose not to fight the decision, and the court gave the city six months to approve store restrictions short of a ban. The deadline is July 14.
Under the proposed ordinance, special-use zoning would keep gun stores out of 99.5 percent of Chicago, limiting them to pockets of the North, West and South sides, city officials said. The stores could not be within 500 feet of a school or park.
Store owners would have to conduct quarterly audits of their gun sales and allow police to inspect their records. They also would have to get the police to approve a security plan before they could open their doors.
“There is no question it will be the smartest, toughest regulation on gun stores in the country,” said Janey Rountree, the mayor’s deputy chief of staff for public safety. “It’s designed to prevent gun trafficking and illegal sales in these stores.”
Peter A. Patterson, a Washington attorney for gun-rights advocates who sued the city over the store ban, said he could not comment until he sees the ordinance. Todd Vandermyde, a spokesman for the National Rifle Association in Illinois, also declined to comment.
Both men have previously said that the six-month time frame for coming up with regulations was too long.
Rountree said similar safety measures were imposed on gun stores in New York City in a settlement of a 2006 lawsuit the city brought against 20 out-of-state firearms dealers.
Those stores agreed to videotape the “point of sale” when a customer bought a gun, Rountree said. Their employees also received training from a retired federal agent on identifying potential “straw purchasers,” people who can legally buy guns but then supply criminals with them.
A study of 10 of those dealers showed an 85 percent drop in the number of “crime guns” they sold after the settlement, Rountree said.
Chicago’s proposed ordinance would require gun stores to submit a safety plan outlining exterior lighting, surveillance cameras and alarm systems, as well as storage of guns and ammunition.
Employees would have to undergo fingerprinting, background checks and training on identifying potential gun traffickers.
The stores would have to maintain a log of gun sales in which a firearm was later recovered in a crime. That would help employees identify potential gun traffickers if they tried to buy more guns, according to the city.
Emanuel is proposing that Chicago gun stores could sell only one handgun a month to a buyer. If the city revoked a store’s business license for violating the ordinance, it could not reopen at the same location for three years, officials said.
Many of the proposed store regulations were included in the recommendations of a new city report on Chicago’s gun-violence problem. The mayor’s office and police department created the report with help from University of Chicago Crime Lab researchers.
The report — obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times — compares murder rates in Chicago, Los Angeles and New York in 2011.
“The three cities have relatively similar rates of non-gun homicides,” the report said. “The difference, however, is Chicago’s large gun market which fuels the murder rate.”
The rate of murders involving guns was 13.4 per 100,000 people in Chicago, 5.9 in Los Angeles and 3.8 in New York.
The report also showed where guns used in crimes in Chicago were originally bought.
About 40 percent of guns that Chicago Police officers recovered in crimes between 2009 and 2013 were originally bought from legal dealers in Illinois. The rest came from out of state, the report said.
Four stores in suburban Chicago, including one in Northwest Indiana, sold nearly 20 percent of the guns recovered at Chicago crime scenes, researchers found. Chuck’s Gun Shop in south suburban Riverdale sold 1,516 of those guns, more than any other firearms dealer.
Indiana gun dealers were the biggest out-of-state source of guns recovered in crimes in Chicago.
Those findings — which mirror those in previous studies — support the need for a federal law specifically outlawing gun trafficking, such as a measure proposed by U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., the report said.
Illinois and local governments should impose stricter safety measures on suburban and downstate gun stores, the report said.
It also recommended creating a regional tracing center that would investigate firearm trafficking in northern Illinois, Wisconsin and Indiana.