Chicago’s Mayor Daley is well known for his opposition to gun rights for individuals other than himself and his political allies. He supports Chicago’s handgun ban, and is fighting a court battle in an attempt to keep that ban, despite overwhelming evidence that the handgun ban doesn’t disarm criminals but instead leaves innocent people defenseless. In keeping with his tradition of passing the buck, Mayor Daley has again decided to blame Chicago’s rampant crime on guns and the federal government:
Daley is backing five new laws in Springfield aimed at curbing gun violence. He is asking that gun dealers be licensed by the state, not just by the federal government; that gun purchasers be limited to one gun a month; that law enforcement close the loophole wherein private sellers transfer guns between each other; a new statewide ban on assault weapons; and increased penalties for shootings on school property anywhere in the state.
Mayor Daley’s legislative proposals bear no relationship to crime prevention, and are instead just more ways of whittling away at the rights of law abiding citizens. Gun dealers are already heavily regulated and licensed by the Federal government. They have to purchase expensive licenses, keep records, agree to inspection, etc. Allowing the state to “regulate” gun dealers to a greater extent would just mean new taxes/fees/paperwork/restrictions that would be used to make it harder for law abiding gun dealers. Black market gun dealers, where criminals buy their guns, will be unaffected by such a law. The net result will be no reduction in crime, but only a greater burden on law abiding gun dealers and their law abiding customers.
The “one gun a month” scheme is also just a thinly veiled attempt to whittle away the rights of gun owners, while doing nothing to stop criminals from having a gun. As I discuss in more detail here, gun owners have many legitimate reasons to purchase more than one gun per month, and it is unreasonable to arbitrarily limit the exercise of a constitutional right such as gun ownership. We don’t limit free speech to once per month. Nor do we tell people that they may only enjoy freedom of religion once per month. Like those rights, gun ownership is a constitutional right that should be respected. Also, note once again that criminals get their guns on the black market, not from gun dealers, so having a one gun per month limit wouldn’t effect such criminals.
Mayor Daley also plays upon the public’s lack of understanding when he says that there is a “loophole” in the law surrounding gun purchases that would allow a person to buy a gun without a background check. There is no such loophole. Before anyone can purchase a gun in Illinois (from either a dealer, a gun show, a private party, or any other source) they must first apply for a Firearm Owner Identification Card (FOID) and pass a background check. Furthermore, the Illinois State Police don’t just run this background check once; every single day the background check is rerun, and if the background check is not passed then the citizen’s FOID is revoked (and their firearms are seized by the police). Without a FOID card, it is illegal to buy a gun, so every lawful gun purchaser in Illinois has had a background check run that very day. In short, there is no “loophole” to be closed. Instead, this proposed law is just another way to make lawful gun purchases more inconvenient and expensive, with the goal of stopping law abiding people from owing a gun. Criminals, of course, ignore the existing law, and would ignore the redundant law that Mayor Daley is pushing for.
The ban on so-called “assault weapons” that Mayor Daley is pushing is yet another law that is predicated upon the general public’s misunderstanding about so-called “assault weapons” (which are not machine guns, which have already been banned for decades). The fact is that such “assault weapon” bans target cosmetic and safety features of guns that are no more suitable for criminal use than any other weapons, and which are rarely used by criminals. Bans on these guns make self defense more difficult, while failing to stop criminals who just ignore this and every other law. Such bans are also vague and confusing, preventing ordinary citizens and even lawyers from understanding the law.
The last proposed law, which increases penalties for shooting people, is not something that I object to, but rather something that I see as pointless. We already have plenty of laws that make it a severely punished crime to shoot at someone, be it at a school or elsewhere. I have a hard time imagining that criminals who are getting ready to commit murder will worry about penalties for the gun-offense portion of their crime being increased. The legislator really should spend time on more pressing matters, instead of trying to make existing crimes super illegal.
Daley counterd[sic] that gun violence is “a national epidemic,” arguing that he supports the Second Amendment and its guarantees on gun ownership. “All of these proposals protect the rights of law abiding citizens, including hunters, to purchase guns,” Daley said.
These statements defy all credulity. Mayor Daley does not support the Second Amendment, and instead supports a total ban on handguns, a ban on guns suitable for self defense, unreasonable restrictions on gun rights, etc. He is the mayor of the most anti gun city in the United States, and his proposals do not respect nor protect the rights of any gun owners. I would also note that the Second Amendment is about security and self defense, rather than hunting.
“This is not Iraq!” [Mayor Daley] said. “This is not Afghanistan! This is not some third-world country.”
That is true, although looking at just the Chicago murder rate, one would be hard pressed to know the difference between Chicago and Iraq. Chicago is the only large city with a handgun ban, yet it is the “murder capitol” of the United States. More gun laws aren’t going to solve this problem, and neither is blaming guns while forcing Chicago citizens to go unprotected against criminals.