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Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Lawsuit Seeking Tougher Gun Regulations Dismissed

In recent years, many local gun regulations, including gun dealer regulations, have been subjected to legal challenges arguing that the regulations were too stringent to comply with the requirements of the Second Amendment. Recently, a Cook County Circuit Court considered a lawsuit arguing the opposite position - that two villages’ gun dealer regulations were not strong enough to stem the tide of illegal guns in to a neighboring city.

In Coalition for Safe Chicago Communities v. Village of Riverdale, 15 CH 10390, a community organization filed a lawsuit against the Villages of Riverdale and Lincolnwood, arguing that the villages violated the Illinois Civil Rights Act by failing to adequately license or regulate firearms dealers. Specifically, the lawsuit argues that the village's failure to adequately regulate these dealers has a disparate impact on African-Americans living in the City of Chicago because these residents are disproportionately affected by crime involving firearms sold within these two villages. Plaintiffs sought a mandatory injunction requiring the villages to adopt gun regulations recommended by a recent report from the City of Chicago to reduce the flow of illegal firearms in to the city.

The court dismissed the case, however, finding that the community organization lacked standing in the case. The complaint failed to allege any of the individual plaintiffs suffered a distinct and palpable injury as a result of the village’s firearm regulations. Plaintiffs also failed to quantify the economic interest or economic loss attributable to the village’s regulations. While plaintiffs alleged that the firearms purchased or obtained in the villages afflicted a disproportionate level of gun violence in the city, the court concluded this “generalized grievance” was not enough to grant plaintiffs standing. The court found that plaintiffs’ alleged injury is not fairly traceable to the villages’ gun regulations, and adoption of plaintiffs’ requested regulations is not likely to redress plaintiffs’ alleged injury.

The court also found that the plaintiffs failed to state a claim under the Illinois Civil Rights Act. First, the plaintiffs improperly relied on the villages’ alleged lack of regulations, and as a result failed to allege the required “identifiable, facially-neutral policy or practice” or “criteria or methods of administration.” Additionally, plaintiffs failed to adequately allege the villages’ regulations resulted in the disproportionate level of gun violence in plaintiffs’ neighborhoods, and subjected the plaintiffs to discrimination.

While plaintiffs were unsuccessful in this lawsuit, local governments may face more legal challenges to their firearms regulations in the years to come, from litigants contending the regulations are too strict, and from others contending the regulations are not strict enough.

Authored by Daniel J. Bolin, Ancel Glink


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