In our opinion: A good Chicago gun ruling

Published: Tuesday, Jan. 28 2014 12:00 a.m. MST

Last year alone, 1,778 Chicagoans were wounded by gunfire, and 372 lost their lives at the end of a gun. And yet the city already has strict gun-control laws.

Sascha Burkard, Getty Images/iStockphoto

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Gun control advocates in Chicago argued recently before a federal judge that the city’s ban on licensed gun stores within city limits was necessary to reduce gun violence. That’s a very real concern, given the staggering amount of people who are killed or injured by guns in that city.

Last year alone, 1,778 Chicagoans were wounded by gunfire, and 372 lost their lives at the end of a gun. Chicago has a higher murder rate than New York City, even though New York City has three times the population of Chicago. Anything that could reduce Chicago’s level of violence ought to be considered.

Yet the problem is that all of this violence is taking place in a city that has some of the strictest gun control laws in the nation. Such laws have not been adequate to reduce gun violence. In addition, the laws on the books are not often adequately enforced. In Chicago, those who commit crimes with guns often can expect to spend only a few months in jail. Any additional laws being considered, if they receive similar levels of enforcement, likely will prove equally ineffectual.

Yet the anti-gun laws on the books have continued to proliferate. Beyond banning retail outlets from selling guns, Chicago also has made it illegal for citizens to transfer firearm ownership through private sales or gifts. Both of these laws presuppose that those willing to commit crimes with a weapon in hand will somehow be deterred by the legality of how the gun was purchased. That defies credulity.

Those most affected by these stringent gun bans are those who already respect the law to begin with, and that is a population that has little in common with those who are perpetuating Chicago’s culture of gun violence. Common sense suggests that beefing up enforcement provisions is a better solution than violating the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens.

The good news is that a federal judge has since struck down both the gun store ban and the prohibition against private transfer of gun ownership.

It’s a welcome development when the Federal Judiciary recognizes the constitutional problems of Chicago’s ban on gun shops. Municipalities shouldn’t be allowed to block the sale of products that are both legal and explicitly protected by the U.S. Constitution. The Second Amendment isn’t popular among gun control advocates, but that doesn’t give them the freedom to ignore it.

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