Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Amended Complaint in NRA's Lawsuit Against Chicago

An amended complaint was filed Friday, August 13th, in the NRA's challenge to Chicago's new gun laws. The case, Benson et al v. Chicago et al, was originally filed on July 6th. The original complaint can be found here.

So what has changed? While most of the complaint stays the same, word for word, additional plaintiffs have been added, the number of counts have been reduced, and the count against the gun list has been dropped in favor of a new emphasis against the restrictions on lawful transportation.

1. Two new plaintiffs added.

Michael Hall, Sr. of Chicago and Rick Pere of Round Lake, Illinois have been added as plaintiffs. Mr. Hall is a 52-year-old Chicago resident, married with 5 kids, a Marine veteran, hunter, and works in the telecommunications industry. The complaint notes that he often works from home and that his truck has been burglarized twice while sitting in his driveway.

Mr. Pere is self-employed as a police-firearms and security-firearms instructor. He served as a police officer in various Illinois municipalities for over 15 years. In addition, he has over 30 years of service in the U.S. Army, Illinois Army National Guard, and the U.S. Air Force Reserves. He has also served as a military contractor in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Haiti. He wants to be able to open a shooting range in Chicago where he could offer firearms training instruction as well as sell firearms.

2.  Stylistic Changes

The amended complaint still retains most of the original complaint word for word. It has updated the references to the McDonald decision to include the actual Supreme Court citation instead of the slip opinion.

Stylistically, it has tightened up some of the language and clarified other things. One major change is to include the race of the plaintiffs living in the City of Chicago. While this does serve to illustrate the racial diversity of the plaintiffs, it feels cumbersome. Unless I am missing something, I think illustrating the racial diversity of the plaintiffs could have been done just as well, if not better, by the use of press releases and having the plaintiffs available for media interviews.

3. Consolidated Number of Counts

The original complaint as filed had eight counts. This number has been reduced to five in the amended complaint. Counts II, VI, and VII were dropped in their entirety. The old Count II challenged the age restrictions in the Chicago. Count VI challenged the "unsafe handgun" portion of the ordinance. Finally, Count VII challenged the banning of laser sight accessories.

4. Dropped challenges to age restriction, unsafe handgun list, and laser sights.

The amended complaint dropped all challenges to the age 21 restriction to obtain a Chicago Firearm Permit (CFP). As currently written, the ordinance does allow those between the ages of 18 and 21 to obtain a CFP if they have written permission of a parent or legal guardian and the parent or guardian is not prohibited by obtaining either a CFP or an Illinois FOID card. I am speculating that dropping this challenge may have been because under Federal law one must be 21 to purchase a handgun from a dealer.

Likewise, the challenges to both the unsafe handgun list and laser sights were dropped in the amended complaint. Given that some states like California and Massachusetts have approved handgun lists, the decision may have been made to wait to challenge this part of the ordinance. The California handgun list is currently by challenged in the case of Pena v. Cid. That case has been stayed pending the outcome of the 9th Circuit's decision in Nordyke v. King. I don't know why the laser sight and accessory complaint was dropped except that it was a minor part of the original complaint.

5. New emphasis on lawful transportation.

While the original complaint did mention the ability to transport a firearm from one location to another - lawful transportation - the emphasis on this was lost in the mix. The amended complaint puts new emphasis on this and mentions it specifically in their request for a declaratory judgment and for injunctive relief against the new ordinance. In the descriptive part of the complaint, more verbiage has been added to describe the plaintiff's desire to "transport" firearms between Chicago and other locations outside of the city.

There is also an added emphasis on the one working gun per CFP per household requirement along with the restrictions on the definition of "home" being within the four walls. The complaint mentions that Mr. Hall wants to be able to provide self-defense for all of his property and not just within the home. Moreover, the complaint goes into detail on the risk a homeowner faces from a home invasion and argues that the one working gun provision increases the risk.

I have embedded the amended complaint below:

Benson et al v. Chicago et al - Amended Complaint

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