Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Chicago's gun laws: Fact checking the GOP response to the Oregon mass shooting

Another mass shooting has prompted a controversy over Chicago's notorious murder rates and its gun laws (report in this morning's Daily Star).

The mass shooting at an Oregon community college last week thrust the debate over the nation's gun laws to the center of the presidential race. At least some of the Republicans who are running have pointed to Chicago as proof that gun control does not work.

The city has a reputation for having some of the country's strictest gun laws but has experienced an increase in homicides and shootings this year, which Republican presidential hopefuls Donald Trump, Chris Christie and Carly Fiorina say proves their point.

But the issue here is whether Chicago's gun laws really are all that tough. The short answer is "no."

Chicago has suffered a streak of losses to the gun rights crowd, aided and abetted by the Supreme Court.

Former Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley was determined to keep handguns out of residents' hands and he fought every legal challenge to Chicago's gun restrictions during his 22 years in office. But the U.S. Supreme Court dealt a big blow to Chicago's gun laws in 2010 when it struck down the city's handgun ban.

Chicago quickly enacted a gun ordinance that proponents said included some of the nation's toughest regulations, but the city was forced to scrap some of the provisions that most angered gun rights advocates.

Then, after a federal appeals court struck down Illinois' last-in-the-nation concealed carry ban in 2012, gun rights advocates took aim at Chicago's decades-old ban on gun stores. The city lost that fight, too, and last year passed an ordinance allowing gun stores.

So when GOP candidates (such as Trump, Christie, and Fiorina) go on the talk-show circuit using Chicago as an example of how gun control laws don't work, they are slinging a lot of bull. The bottom line is this.

... Chicago's gun laws aren't as tough as their reputation suggests. They once were, but courts have overturned or gutted many of them in recent years, forcing a city that once banned handguns and gun shops to allow both.

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