A federal judge on Tuesday approved Chicago's request for a delay of six months to allow the city time to craft a new gun sales ordinance.
Federal Judge Edward E. Chang approved the 180-day delay. Chang had ruled Jan. 6 that the city's ban on gun sales was unconstitutional, and Monday was deadline for the city appeal the ruling.
Instead, Mayor Rahm Emanuel's administration decided to seek the six month delay in its implementation, rather than fight Chang's ruling.
Monday was the last day for the city to appeal the ruling, but in yet another example of the city's recognition that it cannot keep guns out of the hands of its residents, attorneys instead filed a motion asking for the 180 days "to enact reasonable and comprehensive regulations governing firearms sales and transfers that will protect public safety while also respecting Second Amendment rights."
During Tuesday's hearing, Pete Patterson, an attorney representing the plaintiffs, said he wasn't arguing against a stay but said six months was too long.
But Drew Worseck, an attorney for the city, said the full six months are needed because issues surrounding the move to allow gun sales in the city are many and complicated.
In his ruling, Chang found that while the government has a duty to protect its citizens, it is also obligated to protect constitutional rights.
After the ruling, Emanuel's office said the mayor had instructed city attorneys to seek the six-month delay, though his office did not officially rule out an appeal of Chang's decision.
Still, the motion was a clear recognition that the city, which has fought to keep guns out of the hands of its residents as hard as any city in the United States, had lost yet another legal battle.
In 2010, for example, the city followed a similar path when it enacted a handgun ordinance within two weeks of the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling that rendered Chicago's decades-old handgun ban unenforceable.
The city said it needed the six months to allow gun sales because any ordinance will "have many detailed components, including zoning, licensing, and operational requirements for gun dealers, as well as robust regulations targeting illegal sales and transfer practices ..." The motion also said it will take time for the City Council to enact an ordinance.
The attorneys point out in the motion that when a federal court struck down Illinois' last-in-the-nation ban on carrying concealed weapons, it gave state lawmakers 180 days to write a new law that legalized the practice.
That law was subsequently passed, and Illinois residents have started to apply for permits with the Illinois State Police.