The Democratic Illinois legislature is likely to pass more gun control laws today, under emotional pressure from Chicago police. The laws are named after an officer who was killed, and of course, the tragic school shooting in Florida that killed 17 was also cited as a reason for rushing the laws through. Opponents argue that the bills are flawed and would mostly create more redundant paperwork and high costs for small gun dealers and inconvenience, high costs and legal jeopardy for law-abiding gun buyers.
But putting aside the merits of the proposed new laws, isn’t Chicago already an example of how well gun laws work? The city’s last Republican mayor was William Hale “Big Bill” Thompson, who left office in 1931. The NRA had little influence over the generations of liberal Democrat machine rule, and Chicago had some of the strictest anti-gun laws in the country. This week, the White House noted the high gun violence rate in Chicago, and that set the “fact-checkers” spinning like bald tires on an icy Chicago street to try to debunk the criticism. They complained that Chicago used to have tougher gun laws, but some were declared unconstitutional. They also blamed nearby states with less strict gun laws for being sources of guns to Chicago gang members.
I concede both of those points. But complaining that police could control the public better if they didn’t have to obey the Constitution is not a real argument. And blaming nearby states for making it more convenient for criminals to skirt local gun laws glosses over the larger issue: that just proves criminals will find a way to get around laws and obtain guns. One survey of imprisoned gang members even found that they prefer illegal black market guns: no background checks and they’re harder to trace.
Besides, even with that pesky Constitution getting in the way, Illinois and especially Chicago still make it as hard as possible for law-abiding citizens to own, carry or practice shooting a firearm. Yet the city still had 650 killings in 2017. They’re boasting that it’s down slightly from 2016, but that’s still about twice the death total of New York and Los Angeles, both larger; and it averages out to a Parkland-level massacre every 9-1/2 days.
Chicago Democrats are congratulating themselves on the drop and crediting gun laws and stepped-up police work, but a surprising new study by the Data Reporting Lab found that over the past 20 years, gun homicides in Chicago may have dropped by 30%, but shootings actually increased by 15%. The major reason gun deaths are down isn’t gun laws, better policing or fewer shootings but better trauma care. Hospitals have studied techniques learned in other war zones (Afghanistan and Iraq) and applied them in Chicago.
I would also sadly guess that Chicago hospitals and EMTs have probably gotten very good at treating gunshot wounds because they get constant practice.
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