Champaign, Chicago on polar ends of gun control spectrum

In response to a recent Supreme Court opinion declaring its gun ban unconstitutional, Chicago’s new gun ordinance went into effect Monday. While having a gun in Chicago is now OK, the law creates significant barriers to ownership, and law suits have already been filed challenging the new city ordinance.

But there’s no worry that the city of Champaign might see the same kind of challenges. It’s hard to challenge a law that doesn’t exist.

Champaign has no ordinance regulating gun ownership within the city limits, other than one sentence that, in effect, says, “If you can’t do it Illinois, you can’t do it in Champaign.” In other words, the city goes no further than state law in gun regulation.

Second Amendment arguments aside, let’s look at what this means for residents of the city of Champaign. Assistant City Attorney Trisha Crowley briefed me on the basics:

  1. Owning firearms in Champaign is legal. The only firearm ownership regulation — the types of guns and number you may own, what permits you must hold, etc. — comes from Illinois state law.
     
  2. Firing a weapon inside Champaign city limits is illegal, as detailed in Chapter 23 of the Champaign municipal code: “No person shall discharge any firearm or airgun, BB gun or any toy gun projecting lead or metal missiles or that projects a missile or object capable of inflicting bodily harm or under circumstances that could cause a threat to public safety in the City except in a licensed shooting gallery.
     
  3. Selling guns in Champaign is OK, although there is some regulation on second-hand or pawn shops if their owners wish to do so.

What it comes down to is that “gun ownership laws are the same as any statewide provision,” Crowley said.

There is, however, special mention of arrows in the municipal code: “It shall be unlawful to shoot any bow or to discharge any arrow in the City.”

So no bow hunting inside the city limits this fall, I guess.

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