CHICAGO – Chicago lost its legal battle to keep gun stores out of the city, and now it must pick up the tab for nearly $1 million in legal fees that the winners spent on the case.
U.S. District Judge Edward E. Chang said in a one-page ruling Thursday that he found fees associated with the lawsuit filed in 2010 by the Illinois Association of Firearms Retailers "reasonable." Chang, who in January declared Chicago's decades-old ban on gun stores unconstitutional, ordered the city to pay attorneys' fees and costs totaling $940,000.
The order is the latest chapter in the city's long-running battle to keep guns out of its residents' hands, after a U.S. Supreme Court decision rendered the city's decades-old ban on handguns unenforceable and a federal judge's decision declared the state's last-in-the nation ban on concealed weapons unconstitutional.
The ruling comes just days after the City Council, forced by Chang to allow gun sales in the city, approved an ordinance that dramatically limits where those stores can open and includes various provisions, including the requirement that gun stores videotape all gun sales. Gun rights advocates have criticized the ordinance, saying it is so restrictive that it amounts to little more than a continuation of the city's ban on gun stores and that it could prompt more legal action.
Meanwhile, one of the attorneys involved in the case has submitted $618,000 bill for work he and other attorneys did in a gun-rights lawsuit against Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan by a woman and the Illinois State Rifle Association over the state's then-ban on concealed weapons. The Chicago Sun-Times reported Friday that Madigan is challenging the bill because while the state's ban was unconstitutional, a judge never officially ruled in favor of the woman. Madigan's office also argues that the fees are "excessive."