Gun owners in Chicago will no longer have to register their firearms with the local authorities, ending a policy that has helped the police track guns for decades.
Chicago’s City Council voted to make the change on Wednesday, modifying the municipal code to comply with a new state law that will make Illinois the last in the nation to allow people to carry concealed weapons in public. The city’s strict bans on assault weapons and gun dealers remains.
“This is an ongoing battle and struggle to make sure our laws reflect the safety our residents need,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel said at a news conference, expressing disappointment with the “concealed carry” state law.
Chicago’s homicide rate has declined 22 percent in the past year, according to the Police Department. There have been 295 homicides in Chicago this year, compared with 377 during the same period last year.
Criminal experts say the gun registry database in Chicago, which contains more than 8,000 gun owners and about 22,000 firearms, has helped the police better understand the movement of weapons in the city as they put in place new law enforcement strategies, says the New York Times.
The city was forced to make the move after the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh District ruled in December that Illinois’s ban on the carrying of concealed weapons in public was unconstitutional. The decision gave state lawmakers a task they never wanted: to write and pass a law by June 9 creating rules that allow concealed carry.
In the end, legislators enacted a law that gives full control of gun licensing to the Illinois State Police, abolishing Chicago’s gun registration and firearm permit requirements. Other changes included a block on new assault weapons bans, though Chicago was one of a dozen cities and villages to tighten restrictions during a 10-day grace period.