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Chicago abolishes gun registry in place since 1968

A customer inspects a 9mm handgun at Rink's Gun and Sport in the Chicago, suburb of Lockport, Illinois in this June 26, 2008 file photograph
A customer inspects a 9mm handgun at Rink's Gun and Sport in the Chicago, suburb of Lockport, Illinois in this June 26, 2008 file photograph

By Renita Young

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Chicago on Wednesday reluctantly abolished a 45-year-old requirement that gun owners register their weapons with the city, marking a victory for advocates of gun rights such as the National Rifle Association.

The city council voted to end the gun registry in place since 1968 to comply with court rulings against Chicago and Illinois gun control laws, and to bring the city into line with a state concealed carry law.

"I happen to think the court's wrong. I think their interpretation is wrong," Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said of the rulings that forced Chicago to eliminate the registry. He spoke after the council voted.

Chicago has faced a wave of gang-related violence that pushed its murder rate to a five-year high in 2012. While the number of homicides is down this year, police have complained that the city is awash in guns.

The Chicago decision came one day after the gun rights lobby scored a victory in Colorado, ousting two lawmakers who had supported gun control in the state legislature.

The powerful NRA, which boasts millions of gun owners as members, has successfully employed tactics, such as recalls and challenges to gun control laws in court, as a way to get strict enforcement of the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which sets out the right to bear arms.

"We're glad the Chicago firearm registration is gone," said Richard Pearson, executive director of the Illinois State Rifle Association, the local affiliate of the NRA.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2010, in a case challenging Chicago's gun restrictions, that every state and city must adhere to the Second Amendment. The ruling did not strike down the Chicago restrictions directly, but sent the case back to a U.S. appeals court for review.

In December 2012, the appeals court ruled that Illinois's ban on concealed carry was unconstitutional and gave the state six months to create a law allowing guns to be carried in public.

Illinois approved a concealed carry law in July, giving control of gun regulations to the state and essentially nullifying Chicago's power to require that gun owners register their weapons and have a city firearms permit.

The measures approved by a voice vote on Wednesday complied with the new state law. In addition to eliminating the gun registry, the measures eliminated the requirement for gun owners to have a Chicago firearm permit.

(Reporting by Renita Young; Additional reporting by Brendan O'Brien; Editing by Greg McCune, Nick Zieminski and Leslie Adler)

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