New gun ordinances in Chicago may lead to extensive court fight - Fox 2 News Headlines

City council approves ban on guns in restaurants, ends guns registry

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

The Illinois Supreme Court invalidated a gun law that local police have used against hundreds of defendants they found with firearms.

An estimated 190 remain locked up in the Cook County Jail, even after the law has been ruled unconstitutional.

The chief of criminal prosecutions at the Cook County Stat Attorney's Office says they'll move as quickly as they can to release any defendants who are charged only with the gun possession crime that today was found not to be a crime at all.

It was in Auburn-Gresham, one of the South Side's most violent neighborhoods that Chicago police first stopped Edward Hambrick, on July 3rd, 2011. They said it was because he was driving without using his vehicle's seat belt. He had just moved back from South Carolina, where he had a permit to carry a concealed gun. He also had an Illinois Firearm Owner's ID card, but when Chicago cops discovered his loaded firearm, they arrested him.

The unemployed Hambrick chose at first to be his own lawyer, but he was apparently less than polite in his denunciations of Illinois's gun laws as unconstitutional. One judge locked him up pending a mental health evaluation. A psychiatrist declared Hambrick sane, but he's been locked in the Cook County Jail for the last year.

The 40-year-old may soon go free, though, because on Wednesday, the Illinois Supreme Court agreed with Hambrick that the gun possession crime he's accused of is, in fact, his right as a U.S. citizen.

Gun rights lawyer David Sigale was hired by Ed Hambrick's family a few months ago. He hopes a new and unanimous Illinois Supreme Court ruling will free his client. It declared that the very charge against Hambrick, AUUW, or aggravated unauthorized use of a weapon/on person, "On its face...violates the right to keep and bear arms, as guaranteed by the second amendment to the United States Constitution."

Certain behavior just because it involves a firearm is not criminal," says Sigale. "It's not illegal and, in fact, is constitutional protected."

Officials said about 190 current inmates facing AUUW charges. The State's Attorney's office said 90% or more of them also face other charges. Ed Hambrick does not.

On Thursday, the City Council also banned concealed weapons in all bars and restaurants that sell liquor — noting that attorneys were ready to fight the anticipated legal challenges.

Mayor Emanuel's message on this liquor license issue is "bring it on." He said the state law banning concealed, loaded firearms in some places that serve alcohol but not others, makes no sense.

The new legislation the mayor said he'll seek from the General Assembly includes some provisions that the National Rifle Association and other gun rights amendment activists may be able to embrace, now that concealed carry is set to take effect next year.

Specifically, it would impose mandatory jail time on anyone found with a gun who does not have a legal permit to carry one. That's the way it is in New York City, where murderous violence has fallen faster than it has here in Chicago.

Emanuel and Police Supt. Garry McCarthy claim a big part of that difference is the mandatory jail time there, versus the way judges here let even gang members out on probation when they're found with illegal guns.

Gun rights activists are still pushing for immediate permission to carry concealed, loaded firearms in public. A federal appeals court has scheduled a hearing on that for October 3rd.

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