We - especially those of us in the Chicago area - have no doubt been bombarded by the media and politicians with messages about gun violence. There is no doubt that violence is a problem in our communities. However, when we examine the facts we clearly find that legal gun ownership is not to blame.
Looking for an easy solution to gang violence, many Illinois politicians try to impose unreasonable restrictions on our 2nd Amendment rights. They may have good intentions, but these are typically knee-jerk reactions which are not based in fact, and do nothing to curb the violence.
Severe restrictions on legal gun ownership not only fail to keep us safe, but may in fact put us in greater danger!
We have long known through a wealth of historical documents that the intention of our founding fathers was for all law-abiding citizens to be armed to protect themselves, their loved ones, and their communities. Unfortunately those who wish to take away our freedoms have little reason to honor the intentions and traditions of our nation.
One of the most common arguments against owning or carrying firearms is that the 2nd Amendment only protects the rights of militias (such as the National Guard). This is simply untrue, and has recently been definitively put to rest by the Supreme Court of the United States.
The Suprement Court ruling on D.C. v. Heller (and later extended via McDonald v. Chicago) established in no uncertain terms that the Second Amendment protects the right of an individual to keep and bear arms. Not the right of a militia. Not the right of a military. Not the right of the police. Not the right of government-approved organizations. Not the right of the mayor's bodyguards.
The right of the individual citizen to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.
So says the Supreme Court of the United States of America, the highest court in our land, the ones who issue the final verdict on any legal interpretation.
This and similar claims spawn from an oft-quoted, but highly flawed study by Kellerman of John Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research. This has been thoroughly debunked time and again (an overview of its flaws can be found here).
Here are a few raw, unbiased facts. You make the decision for yourself:
They say a picture is worth a thousand words; Even using the most conservative numbers for defensive firearm use, the risk vs. benefit is quite evident:
Please note, however, that there are several reasons NOT to own a firearm. That is your decision to make. We simply do not want that decision made on your behalf and based on anti-gun myths.
Laws disarming honest citizens proclaim that the government is the master, not the servant, of the people.
Jeffrey R. Snyder
How well has this worked for those of us in Chicago?
It hasn't, at all. Chicago had nearly 30 years with a handgun ban in place, and in those decades it did NOTHING to reduce illegal handgun ownership. In fact, gun crimes soared.
Just days before the U.S. Supreme Court forced Chicago to end its handgun ban, over the weekend of June 18th, 2010 there were over 50 people shot in gang-related violence. Harsh gun control laws did not stop these criminals from obtaining and using firearms in their violent crimes.
In fact, the murder rate in Chicago reached a 45-year low the year the handgun ban was lifted. If the handgun ban was keeping us safer, logic dictates that the murder rate should have risen when it became legal to own handguns.
Even if you choose to disregard these facts, take a step back and consider the bigger picture. The premise that laws, such as a ban on guns, keeps criminals from engaging in illegal behavior is fundamentally flawed. We already have laws outlawing murder. If making it illegal to own a gun would stop somebody from committing gun crimes, then shouldn't making it illegal to unjustly kill somebody prevent people from murdering?
Criminals don't obey the law.
We, law-abiding citizens, put ourselves at risk by trusting that they will. We cannot disarm ourselves in hope that the gang bangers and other violent criminals will follow our lead. They will not, and have not in the past 30 years.
The losses are staggering: 52 people shot, seven people dead.
The saddest part: such violence has become so typical that it didn't even make the front pages.
Police and city officials blame gangs and easy access to guns in spite of a ban on handguns
Federal law, specifically the Gun Control Act of 1968, already prohibits dangerous people from possessing firearms. Examples of prohibited persons include:
This and other federal regulations go to great lengths to ensure criminals are forbidden from possessing firearms.
The criminals who are dangerous to police are already carrying firearms, illegally. Police know this and are unfortunately required to deal with it every day. They know, however, that law-abiding citizens (who would be licensed to carry firearms after right-to-carry legislation passes) are not the people they need to be concerned about.
Vigilantes are criminals, illegally seeking punishment for other (alleged) criminals. No responsible law-abiding citizen wants to be a vigilante. Forget what you have seen in movies; That "shoot-first, ask questions later" attitude that makes for a good story simply doesn't happen in real life among law-abiding citizens.
The holders of concealed carry licenses throughout the country overwhelmingly show great levels of responsibility and good judgement, and act well within the law.
Their firearms are used only to stop an immediate and imminent threat against their lives when every other non-violent option has been exhausted. Ideally we would always be able to remove ourselves from dangerous situations, or hold out until police arive - but we don't live in an ideal world.
As responsible citizens, the law-abiding people of Illinois simply want the ability (the same ability other Americans have throughout the rest of the country) to protect themselves when they are in immediate and imminent danger.