A United States Supreme Court ruling today that threw out a District of Columbia gun ban as unconstitutional may also affect Evanston’s gun control ordinance.

The District of Columbia ban, regarded as one of the strictest in the nation, made it practically impossible for an individual to legally possess a handgun in the district and required that rifles and shotguns be rendered essentially inoperable by trigger locks or disassembly.

The court said the law was unconstitutional because it rendered the weapons useless for self-defense.

Evanston’s ordinance, Chapter 8 of Title 9 of the city code, makes possession of any handgun illegal, unless the gun has been rendered permanently inoperative. But it only bars the firing of rifles and shotguns.

The Evanston ordinance also makes exceptions for police and security guards, on-duty members of the armed forces, licensed gun collectors and persons who own antique handguns.

The Supreme Court ruling said that the right to possess a gun is not unlimited — and that bans on concealed weapons or possession of weapons by felons would not be disturbed by the decision.

Related stories

Justices rule for individual gun rights – New York Times

Few gun laws threatened by U.S. Supreme Court ruling – International Herald Tribune

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation


  1. Hopefully the city will just
    Hopefully the city will just accept this and repeal the handgun ban rather than engage in a long, expensive legal battle that they will eventually lose. A lawsuit has already been filed against the City of Chicago and Daley vowed to fight it. Evanston should avoid that and just move on.

    1. Please…
      Evanston doesn’t have to follow the constitution…. we’re better than that tired old document. It was probably written by an ancestor of George Bush. We should fight it every step of the way. Come on! We know what’s best for the rest of the nation.

      We live in a little utopia remember? We’re all happy and diverse here in Evanston. Loving every minute of it.

      Everyone should be like us. Then there would be no problems. We have no problems here.

      Heck, let’s secede.

      1. While I’m happy about this
        While I’m happy about this ruling, have long hoped for the repeal of this ordinance and am unhappy about crime in Evanston, I completely disagree with practically every view and approach stated and implied in your post. And, frankly, if you have such a severe problem with Evanston, the proactive options would be either to a) move or b) work constructively to solve some of the problems you see.

    2. The Chicago Tribune reported
      The Chicago Tribune reported this morning that the NRA is suing the City of Evanston, in additional to Chicago, Morton Grove, and Oak Park.

      Evanston needs to repeal the gun ban, rather than waste the taxpayers’ dollars fighting a losing battle. I’ll be contacting my alderman and the mayor this week to express my opinion.

  2. Paranoia Strikes Deep
    It’s refreshing to see that all the anti-gun nuts will finally be forced to reinstate the peoples’ rights. What kind of government do you have in a town that subjugates it’s people to such an extreme? I am very happy for all the law abiding citizens of the community as they will finally realize their constitutional right to life and liberty !

  3. Do Handgun bans reduce shootings
    With almost 30 Chicago Public School children already killed this year what affect does Chicago’s gun ban have on reducing murder? Effectively none. What affect does Evanston’s handgun ban have on reducing shootings? Effectively none. Now law abiding citizens have the right to defend themselves.

  4. Bill – not clear on how this effects Evanston
    Bill – I am not clear how this effects Evanston – ordinance appears to state – that handguns are not legal – but does not prohibt the ownship of rifles.

    Also does states you must follow state law in firing a rifle?
    you stated “But it only bars the firing of rifles and shotguns.”

    Thus I am assuming a person can purchase a rifle and fire it to protect their home in Evanston without penalty?

    By the way looking at the police reports there are plenty of handguns here – being fired all the time – thus the ordinance appears to have little real effect. Most of the criminals killing one another here have died from handguns.

    1. I am not clear how this
      I am not clear how this effects Evanston – ordinance appears to state – that handguns are not legal – but does not prohibt the ownship of rifles.

      The issue is that this ruling states that handgun bans, like the one in here in Evanston, are unconstitutional. Specifically, the ruling states the Second Amendment guarantees the right to have a handgun in the home and to have it immediately operable, eg, trigger lock can’t be required.

      For illustration, this (from the city code):

      9-8-2: POSSESSION:
      No person shall possess, in the city of Evanston any handgun, unless the same has been rendered permanently inoperative. (Ord. 42-0-05)

      is explicitly unconstitutional according to the ruling.

    2. effect to Evanston
      This ruling would definitely make the Evanstons ban unconstitutional. The Justices opinion made it clear that (to paraphrase) “A person is allowed to have a firearm for immediate defense.” I’m assuming immediate defense means that you are allowed to have a loaded gun in your home.

      I’ve also read, that the NRA is planning to sue Chicago, and suburbs about their respective bans (I’m assuming this includes Evanston). The ISRA has already started a suit on Chicago about their ban. It appears a domino effect is at hand.

      1. Incorporation of Bill of Rights
        It is still not clear whether this decision would invalidate ANY handgun laws in Chicago or Evanston.
        This case was about a District of Columbia law (Federal territory), not a law in any state. The court has not made any decision on whether the states have any right to limit or even prohibit handguns.
        There has always been a question over whether the Bill of Rights is binding on the states. I believe that Antonin Scalia, the leading right wing crazy on the court, tends to believe that the First through Eighth Amendments only limit Federal, not State, powers.

  5. The supreme court held that
    The supreme court held that citizens have a constitutional right to keep handguns in their homes for protection. This would seem to suggest that Evanston’s handgun ban is unconstitutional – as it bans the possession of any modern handgun. Of course, the court’s ruling only (currently) applies to DC, as it resides under federal jurisdiction. However, gun rights groups have already signaled that they will challenge Chicago’s law under this ruling. Given that the ruling was written fairly specifically — in regards to home possession — it is very likely that the Chicago, and therefore Evanston’s ban will be ruled unconstitutional. Unfortunately, the court did not address other state or local restrictions or regulations on handguns, ammunition, or arms in general.

  6. Self defense by Hand gun? Non-sense.
    It makes no sense….

    Let’s allow citizen to protect themself by shooting each other and close eyes on frequent accidents of kids death.

    Let criminals have easy way to get hand guns by allowing handguns available without adaquate control.

    I just do not get it.

    What do you think if your child get shot by a hand gun? Still think hand guns should be allowed?

    Wouldn’t yourather be attacked by a knife than a gun?

    1. Self defense by hanggun? it works
      To the previous poster. Obviously you’ve been brainwashed by the gun control advocates. Consider this:

      – States that have looser gun laws see less crime. In fact, every state that has passed concealed carry laws (48 states) have ALL seen decreases in violent crime.

      – 98% of all violent crime is not committed with a handgun

      – Most gun crime is committed with illegally obtained guns, a ban on citizen ownership has no affect on crime. This has been proven time and time again.

      – All the cities that have the highest crime rates are all cities with HEAVY restrictions on gun ownership

      – Gun accidents involving children are actually very low and on the decline

      – School shootings have also been on the decline since the 70’s

      This is just a wee bit of the facts. The gun control wack jobs have done a great job in brainwashing the masses. You guys don’t even know the facts. It’s time to face the facts buddy, gun control has failed. It’s time to restore our constitution rights.

      1. Not True
        The US has the highest rates of gun private gun ownership in the world, and the highest rate firearm deaths in the world. Several recent studies — see American Journal of Public Health, Harvard School of Public Health study, et al — have shown a strong correlation between firearm ownership and firearm deaths.

        That said: Personally, I am ambivalent towards handgun bans. I think both sides of this debate tend to fetishize handguns to a point of obsession. The fact remains that on a per-capita basis we have more firearm deaths than any other country — even those with higher than average gun ownership. This suggests that there is something simply wrong with the ethos of our country. When people start shooting one another out of desire or fear there is some greater force at work than whether or not they can buy a handgun.

        The overturning of Evanston’s ban will almost certainly mean at least one more firearm death will occur. It becomes simple extrapolation: some of those who purchase a handgun will do so out of fear of becoming a victim; fear, inherently, makes people act in irrational ways.; irrational behavior with a firearm usually leads to injury or death. Coupled with other fear based handgun behavior — ie. leaving a loaded gun near a bead, to be prepared for a late-night breaking — means more handguns will be stolen and used in property crimes, leading to a greater chance that the perpetrator (acting out of fear) will injure or kill someone. An easily accessible handgun in the home means that sooner or later a child will bring one to school, or take it out to play with it, and injury himself or a classmate. These aren’t dire warnings; there are simply nature of things.

        As I said, I am pretty ambivalent about a lot of gun laws. The Constitution clearly suggests some kind of firearm rights — though one could argue what those rights entail, there definitely are some. The real problem is that far too many people see gun ownership as a panacea — arm everyone or disarm everyone and crime will go away. While the real issue should be to find out why we need to resort to violence in the first place.

      2. Guns are not the answer!
        It is a condescending and tired old rhetorical trick to suggest that someone with an opposite opinion has been “brainwashed” by an organized group. Can we please get over the name-calling? Let’s acknowledge that both sides have meaningful points to contribute to this issue, and engage in a thoughtful and critical discussion about the place of guns in our society.

        Here are some things to consider in response to the post above:

        – If the claim that states that have looser gun control laws have lower crime rates is true, this may be an instance of correlation rather than causation. In other words, these states may not NEED restrictions on guns because there is already a low rate of violence. In addition, cultural, historical, and demographic factors should be taken into account: perhaps these areas have fewer cities, people are less inclined to own guns in spite of laws allowing them to, they don’t have problems with violent gangs like Chicagoland, etc.

        – Again, I don’t know about the accuracy of the claim that 98% of all violent crime is committed without a handgun. But I’m willing to bet that a very high rate of LETHAL violent crime is committed with a handgun.

        – I agree that most gun crime is committed with an illegally obtained handgun. The question for Americans is, do we want to make guns harder to obtain for EVERYBODY, including criminals, or do we want more guns in everybody’s hands?

        – You claim that the cities with the highest crime rates are the ones with the heaviest restrictions on gun ownership. Again, if this is true, it may be a case of correlation as opposed to causation. Perhaps heavy gun restriction laws were enacted in RESPONSE to high rates of gun violence.

        – You say that gun accidents involving children are very low and on the decline. I say, why even open yourself up to the opportunity for such a tragedy? Earlier this week, a 3-year-old from Joliet shot himself in the head while playing with a gun, while his mother was in the next room. This is an accident that is entirely preventable.

  7. Risks of defending yourself
    Now that we all have the right to keep firearms loaded to “defend ourselves” in our homes, suffer the children. According to Stanford Children’s hospital:

    In 2002, 60 children ages 14 and under died from unintentional firearm-related injuries; more than half of those children were between the ages of 10 and 14.

    Most unintentional firearm-related deaths among children occur in or around the home; 50 percent at the home of the victim, and 40 percent at the home of a friend or relative.

    The presence of a firearm in the home increases the risk of unintentional firearm-related death among children (especially if the firearm is loaded and kept unlocked).

    Most unintentional firearm-related child deaths involve guns that were loaded and accessible, and occur when children play with the gun.

    More than one-half of firearm owners keep their firearms loaded and ready for use some of the time.

    Most unintentional shootings among children occur in the late afternoon, on the weekend, during summer months, and during the holiday season, when children are most likely to be unsupervised.

    Rural areas have higher incidences of unintentional firearm-related injuries, as well as higher rates of firearm ownership.

    1. whose fault is it?
      Rant = on

      Whose fault is it when a child finds a gun under the matress, plays with it and kills him/herself? Not the gun. Not the child. The parent is to blame.

      I grew up in a house that had many guns. Many times as a child, when my parents were away, I would find the guns and show them to friends who happened to be visiting…..nobody ever got shot. Why? Because my Dad started teaching me very early on what they did, how they worked, how to handle them, disassemble/rebuild them, and finally how to hit bullseye from 100 yards. Hunting rifles, shotguns and handguns. He told me what to do if a stranger ever broke into the house: “kill him with a gun.”

      Ignorance/unfamiliarity is the problem.

      We all need to be gun-aware, not gun-ignorant. Why? Because there are guns in this world. The human species has learned how to make them. If all the guns and gun manufacturers suddenly disappeared from this planet, people would quickly learn to fabricate them in their basements & garages.

      I live in Evanston and know for a fact that it is chock-full of forward-thinking, intelligent folk. Let’s *all* start acting that way.

  8. Ignorance about handguns is so common in Illinois
    All the ignorant people complaining about all the people shot by handguns don’t realize that these handguns were illegally obtained weapons most of the time. Criminals don’t follow any laws whether they are Chicago laws or federal laws! Just because criminals are shooting criminals in Chicago with illegal guns should not take away my right to defend my home with a handgun. Here’s a classic example of a Chicago woman who died while waiting for the police to “save her life” http://cbs2chicago.com/topstories/2.329682.html By the time police arrived on the scene her ex husband had already killed her! When seconds matter the police are always minutes away! Stop being a sheep and empower yourselves to defend yourselves! Get a handgun and learn how to use it.

  9. Supreme Court Decision
    To those of you expressing outrage and shock please keep in mind the City never had any right to impose anti-gun legislation in the first place…Argue all you want over how the 2nd amendment should be interpreted but I think we can safely say a Supreme Court decision does in fact hold a bit more legal weight over Lorraine Morton and 9 Alderman..

    Please also keep in mind that rifles were never against the law in Evanston and such a law could never have been passed—the legislation as strands pertains to handguns….No handguns for private ownership what so ever—Only cops or law enforcement officials can legally have or carry a handgun….But If you have a valid IL FOID card you can own a rifle and keep it in your home–or semi automatic rifle—Automatic weapons of any kind are forbidden due to the Brady Bill….The laws from there are pretty much in line with the rest of Cook County or Chicago–No stores in Evanston are allowed to sell any kind of device that shoots anything–PERIOD—no bb guns, no sling-shots—no bow and arrows—no ammo—and I think the law states your not even allowed to sell toy guns—But I have seen cap pistols for sale at the dollar store over by Dodge and Dempster.

    As for the future of firearm laws in cities like Evanston—I would imagine it’s entirely possible the law will stand “as is” unless someone or some group decides to really challenge it—If such person or group files suit with legal backing, the City wouldn’t stand much a chance–as stated before—the Supreme Court decision ovaries anything Lorraine & Company can counter with—The DC decision stands…The highest court in the land has finally rendered exact interpretation of the 2nd Amendment—cut and dried…Law abiding citizens have the right to buy firearms and handguns…Also keep in mind this does not mean one can carry a gun on their person—Most states in the US have “carry laws” but it’s strictly forbidden under IL law….But one can carry a gun in the trunk of their car as long as they can prove the gun is their property, possess a valid FOID card, and never been convicted of a felony.

    One should also keep in mind police can control the illegal sale and distribution of firearms about as well as they control the sale of marijuana, cocaine, or any other illegal substance—and I mean no disrespect to cops—it’s just too much to expect they can control it, and they’ll never will be able to—If one wants to buy a gun they can easily get one and no law will ever be able to stop that—Has anyone noticed the high level of shootings in Evanston of recent years?—did anti-gun laws stop that from happening?—NO….Can any long time Evanston residents recall shootings in Evanston when we were growing up?–NO—because it didn’t happen….Times have changed and the thugs have guns and always will—No law will stop that…Why deny law abiding citizens the right to buy?

    Please refer to US History 101–Prohibition and alcohol case in point—All Prohibition ever did was supply gangsters and low lifes with another excellent cash making product to peddle—And all current anti-gun laws do the same—Just provide drug dealers with another cash cow item to add to their inventory—And please don’t counter by saying then it should be made illegal to manufacture guns in the USA—all that would do is flood the market with foreign made guns….Law abiding citizens have the right to buy, own, and maintain a firearm in their home—learn to live with it or have the law repealed.

  10. Twenty First Amendment
    The last time Evanston interfered with the lives of ordinary citizens it took an amendment to the United States Constitution to put us in our place. Maybe we should learn to mind our own business.

    1. Twenty First Amendment
      Was that prohibition or the repeal of prohibition?

      Repeal. Enactment of prohibition was the 18th amendment.
      — Bill

  11. Supreme Court Decision
    The wheels are already in motion…Please refer to the following as reported last night—

    REUTERS—Fri Jun 27, 2008 6:57pm EDT—-Gun group sues San Francisco, Chicago over gun bans—Supreme Court finds individual right to own guns —-A day after the Supreme Court struck down a ban on handguns in Washington, D.C., the National Rifle Association gun rights group filed lawsuits on Friday in San Francisco and Chicago against gun bans there.—“The Supreme Court held yesterday that the Second Amendment right is exercised individually and belongs to all Americans, ” Chris Cox, the NRA’s chief lobbyist, said in a statement. “These lawsuits will ensure that state and local governments hear those words.”—The Chicago case challenges a handgun ban similar to the Washington, D.C., law struck down by the Supreme Court. The NRA also filed lawsuits challenging gun restrictions in the Chicago suburbs of Evanston, Morton Grove and Oak Park.

    Notice the part there about Evanston—thats not a veiled threat—it’s going to happen—The NRA clearly identifies Evanston’s in their lawsuit and they wouldn’t bother without the Supreme Court decision—You can put a fork into Evanston’s gun laws.

    Who knows?—Once the new tower plans are finalized the flagship store might be a Bass Pro shop—Your most difficult task will be deciding if you want a Glock, Colt, or Berretta?

  12. How many criminals have shot one another here over the years?
    I seem to recall there are numerous examples of the criminal element in Evanston robbing people on the streets here. I also recall that these same people shoot one another quite often – most of the time it is a minor injury.
    Also in many of the robberies here hand guns have been displayed. Thus one might assume the City ordinance is rather worthless. It does not prevent much – I recall a year or two ago a child died here by a gun – in his house – was the ordinance effective? did it prevent the child from getting shot? Most of the people who let their children get shot by guns – clearly would most likely leave them at home alone-so they could get injuried by some other means.

    Bottom line there are alot of criminals in this town who are using guns – every year one or two of them shoots one another – it is rare a innocent person gets shot here – although it has happened – here again the ordinance does not appear effective.

    How many shots are fire here all the time? At the crime meeting in the 8th ward – a few months back – the police and citizens were assemblied and shots here fired in the distance – many officers left they went to Chicago a person had died.
    At the community meeting on crime at ETHS over a year ago – hours before the meeting a person was shot on the streets of Evanston – not one public official at the meeting wanted to talk about it – that is they did not bother to tell the public – they want ed to have a discuss about how we can help the criminal element here, rather than deal with getting rid of them. Interesting enough the Key note speak at the event was father Michael Piefer from Chicago his views must have clearly upset the criminal supporters in the audience and council when he said the criminals should be run out of Evanston.

    Lets get real here – I suspect our next council meeting will have the usual wind bags -giving us their speeches about the ruling and their views on limiiting guns – but ask these same people for any real opinion or solution to solving the crime problem here and you will not get an answer.

  13. Wouldn’t you rather be attacked by a knife
    To the anonymous person who asked “wouldn’t you rather be attacked by a knife”. Ask the young woman who was attacked by a man with a knife in the 900 block of Sherman, who then was forced back into her apartment and raped, then made to ride the El and take money out of her bank account. Had she had a gun to protect herself she may have avoided the attack but Evanston prevented her from protecting herself and would seem to be in line for a lawsuit given the Supreme Courts decision. Her assailant just received 80 years in prison last week.

    1. Does anyone recall the poor women who was murder by knifes
      Does anyone recall the poor women who was murder – stabbed over 30 times in here home here a few years ago? I recall one article by the press here had someone stating she died quickly by the attack, claiming the way she was cut clearly the powers to be like to under play these events.. The police have not solved this crime – it is likely the people involved are still in town – by the way years ago another individual had his throat cut here – the press under reported that crime too- his head was almost cut off – I was told the police officers who found the individual had to have consueling.

      Knifes or guns makes no difference! It all about the criminals in Evanston not knifes or guns!

    2. What are the chances?
      What are the chances that she (or anyone in a similar situation), having been surprised by a threatening individual, would have had her gun loaded and in an easily accessible place? What are the chances that this frightened and probably untrained civilian would have had the presence of mind to respond in a way that successfully scared the attacker off? What are the chances that, if forced to use the weapon in question, s/he would discharge it successfully, wounding only the assailant and nobody else in the vicinity (including her/himself)? What if the individual pauses or is unable to handle the weapon and is overpowered by the attacker, who uses the gun against her/him?

      Gun advocates make many assumptions when they claim that being armed can help people ward off surprise attacks like the one mentioned above. Maybe a trained military person or police officer would handle such a situation well, but it seems doubtful that average people would have the experience or presence of mind to successfully use a gun to thwart an attack.

      1. Well YOU can be the victim then
        You’re assuming that the with protecting there home wasn’t properly trained with there weapon. Obviously, it isn’t intelligent to purchase a weapon and acquire no training. But if armed and trained correctly, that weapon will save your life.

        You be then victim. I choose not to be and will be excercising my constitutional right.

      2. Great Argument for Concealed Carry
        I have to agree with anonymous a little here, she should have had the ability to defend herself outside of her home as well as inside it. This state should have a concealed carry law. However, it’s wrong to assume individual citizens would be untrained. The people who are willing to put themselves through the background check, fingerprint recording, training requirements, and pay the fees to get concealed carry licenses are the people who are interested in carrying responsibly. Carrying responsibly means being trained and knowing when and how to use your gun. It also means knowing when not to use it.

        You can play “what if” all day and eventually you will find the right questions to make your point seem correct. Here’s a few for you, what if someone breaks into my home and I hear him, what if I’ve caled the police but they haven’t arrived yet, what if this person is coming up the stairs and perhaps even verbally threatening to kill anyone who moves once he gets there? Should I have the right to defend myself? If I have time to call 911, I have time to grab the loaded gun out of the quick access safe by my bed. I shoot every week, what do you think are the chances the attacker will be able to harm me or my family in that situation?

        Allow those people, willing to take the responsibility to defend themselves, the means with which to do it. Nobody will ever force you to carry or own a gun if you don’t want to. However, I know first hand that the police can not be there all the time. Only I can be responsible for my safety 24/7.

  14. Gun Ban Needs Open Discussion
    From the amount of responses to this story there appears to be a need for a more open discussion within the community. Out of the 27 or so responses only about 4 or 5 are from folks willing to put their name to what they have to say. While comments from “anonymous” lend themselves to the discussion its just not the same thing as face to face. I will contact the city and see if they are willing to create an open forum for the matter.

  15. YEEEEEESS!!!
    Stats show cities with concealed carry laws in place are generally safer.Dont you think burglars would think twice with the possibility of a gun on the other side of that window? Don’t think a mugger would think twice if there was a possibility there potential victim or witness may be armed? Lets be real people, guns do a far better job of keeping the peace then a “we call police” sign. I want them to push the law a little further and make it comparible to florida with concealed carry permits for law abiding citizens.I should have that piece of mind.

  16. SOURCE

    Seventh United Nations Survey of Crime Trends and Operations of Criminal Justice Systems, covering the period 1998 – 2000 (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Centre for International Crime Prevention)DEFINITION
    Total recorded intentional homicides, completed. Crime statistics are often better indicators of prevalence of law enforcement and willingness to report crime, than actual prevalence. Per capita figures expressed per 1,000 population.Crime Statistics > Murders (per capita) (most recent) by country
    VIEW DATA: Totals Per capita
    Definition Source Printable version

    Bar Graph Map

    Showing latest available data. Rank Countries Amount (top to bottom)
    #1 Colombia: 0.617847 per 1,000 people
    #2 South Africa: 0.496008 per 1,000 people
    #3 Jamaica: 0.324196 per 1,000 people
    #4 Venezuela: 0.316138 per 1,000 people
    #5 Russia: 0.201534 per 1,000 people
    #6 Mexico: 0.130213 per 1,000 people
    #7 Estonia: 0.107277 per 1,000 people
    #8 Latvia: 0.10393 per 1,000 people
    #9 Lithuania: 0.102863 per 1,000 people
    #10 Belarus: 0.0983495 per 1,000 people
    #11 Ukraine: 0.094006 per 1,000 people
    #12 Papua New Guinea: 0.0838593 per 1,000 people
    #13 Kyrgyzstan: 0.0802565 per 1,000 people
    #14 Thailand: 0.0800798 per 1,000 people
    #15 Moldova: 0.0781145 per 1,000 people
    #16 Zimbabwe: 0.0749938 per 1,000 people
    #17 Seychelles: 0.0739025 per 1,000 people
    #18 Zambia: 0.070769 per 1,000 people
    #19 Costa Rica: 0.061006 per 1,000 people
    #20 Poland: 0.0562789 per 1,000 people
    #21 Georgia: 0.0511011 per 1,000 people
    #22 Uruguay: 0.045082 per 1,000 people
    #23 Bulgaria: 0.0445638 per 1,000 people
    #24 United States: 0.042802 per 1,000 people

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