The Gun Law Debate: Is Chicago proof that our Gun laws don’t work?

The Chicago Blog Picture Untouchables

In the wash of the horrific shooting in Las Vegas last week, the White House faced inquiries about whether President Trump would support the stringent gun legislation.

Press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders did not give a straight answer to these questions, but her statement revealed a White House hesitant to create new laws.

“I think one of the things we do not desire to do is try to create laws that won’t stop these types of situations from happening,” Sanders said Monday. “I think if you look at Chicago where you had over 4,000 victims of gun-related crimes last year they have the strictest gun laws in the country. That certainly hasn’t helped there.”

Suggesting Chicago imply that gun laws do not work is not a unique talking point — Trump declared Chicago had “the toughest gun laws in the United States” in a 2016 presidential debate; Republican hopeful Chris Christie pointed to Chicago as a community with the big crime notwithstanding tight gun laws.

Moreover, the oratory goes beyond lawmakers. The conservative site Breitbart has on many moments posted editorials with headlines including the catchword “gun-controlled Chicago.”

This can sound like a compelling talking point. Chicago is a vast city with an infamous crime problem, which Trump previously used to talk about shaping law and order. It also presses the added rhetorical blow of being closely associated with President Obama, whose actions Trump has worked hard to undo.

However, while gun violence in Chicago is high, the rest of this common talking point does not indeed hold water.

It is also accurate that there were higher than 4,000 shooting victims in Chicago in 2016. It is also correct that Chicago has undergone a massive amount of gun crime lately. In 2016, homicides in Chicago piercingly rose, chiefly as a result of gun homicides, as the University of Chicago crime lab affirmed in a January report.

Gun murders in the city rose by 61 percent between 2015 and 2016. That made the gun homicide rate in Chicago particularly tremendous compared to other similar towns. The proportion stood 25.1 per 100,000 residents in 2016, corresponding to 14.7 in Philadelphia and merely 2.3 in New York.

It also had a relatively high quantity of guns recovered — 243 per 100,000 residents. That is approximately on a level with Philadelphia and much more significant than Los Angeles or New York.

Nevertheless, it is not accurate that Chicago has the most strict gun legislation in the country. It is true that Illinois has more stringent gun laws than many other states. The state is one of seven that requires licenses or permits to buy any firearm, and it is one of five that sets waiting periods for purchasing any gun. The Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, which follows gun laws nationally, has assigned the state a B+ for its gun laws.

Chicago itself has some harsh laws — there is an assault-weapons ban in Cook County, for example. However, it is not true that Chicago has the strictest gun laws in the country. At one point, it did have much more stringent requirements — it had outlawed handguns in the city limits, but a 2008 Supreme Court decision declared that limitation unconstitutional, and a 2010 decision reaffirmed this. The township also had had a gun registry plan since 1968 but stopped it in 2013 when the state established a law providing the concealed carry of weapons.

“We think of California as having the strongest gun laws in the country,” said Hannah Shearer, a staff attorney at the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. “The whole state’s laws are pretty strong.”

The center has awarded California an A rank and listed it No. 1 regarding the tightness of its gun legislation. California forbids the open carry of guns and demands background analyses on private firearm transactions.

“Some cities go even beyond that,” Shearer added. “San Francisco has a safe storage law, requiring that guns keep in the home be kept locked.” This is a regulation that Chicago, for example, does not have.

Complaining over precisely what part of the U.S. is No. 1 do not gun-law strictness, however, isn’t the most compelling portion of Sanders’ declaration. She also said that having gun regulations “certainly hasn’t helped” in Chicago. That is a much more controversial claim, and it does not withstand scrutiny.

State borders do not obstruct guns. It is imperative to recognize here that Chicago is very near to two states that have relatively weak gun laws: Wisconsin and Indiana. Neither Wisconsin nor Indiana is licenses or permits to purchase a gun, for example, nor do they need waiting periods. While Illinois has that B+ grade from the law center, Wisconsin has a C- and Indiana a D-.

Moreover, there’s good evidence that being next-door to those states keeps Chicago criminals well-supplied with guns. More than 60 percent of new guns employed in Chicago gang-related crimes and 31.6 percent used in non-gang-related offenses within 2009 and 2013 were purchased in different states. Indiana was a remarkably disturbing supplier, providing nearly one-third of the gang guns and almost one-fifth of all the non-gang firearms.

A 2014 Chicago Police Department report affirmed that Indiana accounted for 19 percent of all guns collected by the department between 2009 and 2013.

New firearms track data from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives published last week show that Illinois as a total faces a massive inrush of guns. Of around 8,700 firearms recovered in Illinois and for which the bureau attained a source state, more than half came from out of state — 1,366, approximately 16 percent, came from Indiana solely.

By contrast, 82 percent of guns recovered in Indiana and traced were from within Indiana, implying that perpetrators in that state do not have to cross state lines, like those in Illinois, to get their weaponry.

All of this might infer that criminals will just go to whatever measures necessary get their hands on guns, unmindful of whatever laws are in place.

We should regulate ammunition, should be able to trace every bullet back to a person and if your bullets are used in a crime, you should be prosecuted regardless if you had anything to do with it.

This debate will always be “Beating a Dead Horse” anywhere, anytime, and any place. Guns are a tool; weapons are tools. It is the hands that use them that distinguishes what their purpose is. The laws are in place for guns and gun owners. Humans are the problem, and no one wants to address this. I can go anywhere, anyplace, at any time and buy a gun. Not because a pistol is just hanging out in an ally wanting me to buy it, but because humans want to sell them. There are laws for private sales of firearms, do they follow them? No. They just want to sell their gun, and someone wants to buy it. That is still illegal by law. So, guns are not the problem; humans are, no debate. Regulate ammo, discontinue production of firearms. However, criminals will always get what they want.

3 thoughts on “The Gun Law Debate: Is Chicago proof that our Gun laws don’t work?”

  1. Travis, good job with this piece! I like how you break down the arguments about Chicago’s gun laws. Maybe next time, could you embed the links to your sources? You used some great facts to support your case and I would like to know more. Anyways, great article!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Links oh gosh yes I need those bad! I need a little help with those things(and other site settings, but I really appreciate the nice comments! I’m super motivated now! It just takes getting the first post over with. Thanks Alyssa.


  2. Travis, this is a great article. I’m glad to see how you incorporated recent news events to your argument. Like Alyssa said, links, and even charts, are definitely helpful! Great work!

    Liked by 1 person

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