Chicago has long been home to some of the most restrictive gun laws in the nation, but all of that changed on Monday, when a federal judge ruled that the city’s outright ban on handgun sales is unconstitutional. U.S. District Judge Edmond Chang, an Obama appointee, determined that the restriction prevents “legal buyers and legals dealers from engaging in lawful acquisitions and lawful sales of firearms.” Chang permitted the law to remain in effect until January 13th as the city decides whether to file an appeal.
Prior to 2010, it illegal was illegal to even possess a handgun in the Chicago, let alone buy one. But when the Supreme Court struck that ban down, the law was modified so that only sales and transfers of handguns were prohibited. It was still one of the strongest gun control measures in the country — under it, the only legal way to acquire a handgun was to inherit one. Even gifted handguns between family members were against the law.
All of these laws were put in place because of Chicago’s astronomical handgun death rate. So, was the handgun ban effective at reducing violence? Well, that depends on how you look at it. On the one hand, Chicago had fewer homicides in 2013 than in any year since 1965. Good! On the other hand, it still had more homicides than any other city in the country. Not good. In totality, though, homicides have fallen in Chicago over the last twenty years.
Chang's ruling didn't affect Chicago's ban on assault weapons, which remains in place.