If Joe Franzese [ICarry.org President] has his way, he will open five gun shops within the borders of Chicago by the end of this year.
Franzese already owns one gun shop, Second Amendment Arms in Lake Villa. But his goal of opening gun shops in Chicago, including Lincoln Park and on Michigan Avenue, has been halted due to new ordinances set in place by the Chicago City Council regarding the sale and ownership of guns in the city.
Franzese and former United States Marine Robert Zieman, Sr., have now filed a lawsuit against the City of Chicago and a number of city officials, alleging the new ordinances are unconstitutional. The lawsuit was filed against the City of Chicago, Mayor Richard M. Daley - as an individual and as mayor, - Superintendent of Police Jody P. Weis, City Clerk Miguel Del Valle and Maria Georges - as an individual and as corporation counsel.
"I filed the lawsuit because I want to sell a legal product and you can't outlaw a legal product," said Franzese.
According to the lawsuit filed by Franzese's attorney, Walter Maksym, the United States Supreme Court on June 28 struck down the City of Chicago's previous gun ban ordinance that had been in place for 28 years. The ordinance, Maksym wrote in his complaint, "banned handguns by making them 'unregisterable' by law-abiding citizens, and thereby prohibited and was designed to render their ownership, transfer and possession illegal."
Franzese, who has owned Second Amendment Arms in Lake Villa for two years, then submitted two business license applications with the Chicago City Clerk's office with the intent of opening gun shops in Lincoln Park and on Michigan Avenue.
Within a couple of days, however, city officials adopted a new set of ordinances regarding the sale and ownership of guns. Maksym said these ordinances call for extensive training, require gun owners to obtain a $100 renewable permit every three years and prohibit gun owners from taking those guns outside of their homes - even in their backyards.
"People get killed in the streets. People get mugged in their backyards," said Maksym, who also is one of the lawyers representing Drew Peterson in his pending murder case. "They're saying you can only keep arms in your home but not bear arms."
He added the $100 permit is "like having a $10,000 car and having a $20,000 city sticker."
The new ordinance, according to the lawsuit, also bans gun shops.
"By banning gun shops and the sale (of) handguns, Chicago and Mayor Daley currently maintain and actively enforce a set of laws, customs, practices and policies under color of state law which deprive individuals, including the plaintiffs, of their right to keep and bear arms, and engage in commerce by selling them, lawful products, in violation of the Second and 14th Amendments to the United States Constitution," the lawsuit alleges.
"You cannot overregulate," said Maksym. "You cannot ban people from having a legal product or using a legal product."
He likened it to being able to practice religion, but not being allowed to build churches in the city.
"I represent law-abiding gun owners," said Maksym. "People get shot because people are angry. There's no such thing as gun violence."
Franzese said he wants to open gun shops in Chicago because "it's an untapped market.
"I'm a businessman. I go where I'm needed," he said.
Franzese maintains he is "grandfathered in on the Supreme Court ruling" since he submitted his business license applications after the old ban was struck down and before the new ordinances were adopted.
The gun shops he wants to open, Franzese said, would be full-service shops that would offer training, education and, possibly, shooting ranges.
"I have unlimited financial backing, unlimited time and I'm not going anywhere anytime soon," said Franzese. "The ball's in (Mayor Daley's) court. We haven't heard anything yet, but all odds of this going through are few and far between, I guess.
"I'm not going anywhere," he added. "I've got 15, 20, 30 years. It doesn't matter to me."
Franzese is seeking monetary damages through the lawsuit, including loss of profits and attorney fees.