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Law Tue Mar 23 2010

Supreme Court Taking a Shot at Chicago's Gun Ban

Earlier this month, Chicago's nearly 30-year-old gun ban was taken before the supreme court. In the wake of the court's 2008 decision to strike down Washington D.C.'s similar ban, Chicagoans hoping to get their hands on a hand-cannon have reason to be optimistic. Four Chicagoans, David and Colleen Lawson, Otis McDonald and Adam Orlov, are the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, none of whom are necessarily the kind of person you may imagine would file this lawsuit. To quote an article on the subject from MSNBC:

"Some people want to stereotype advocates in any case, to make them look like a bunch of crazies," said Alan Gura, a Virginia attorney who will argue the case. "But these are plaintiffs who reflect the city in which they live."

The case provides a unique legal situation. The District of Columbia is technically governed federally, so in this situation the court must consider whether or not cities or states have to right to restrict firearm ownership to the degree of an all-out ban.

What do you, Chicagoans, really think about the ban? Of course Chicago typically leans left politically, but not everyone blindly adheres to whatever their political party preaches. Do you think the gun ban has been effective in reducing gun related crime? Why, or why not? Perhaps more interestingly, would you buy a gun if the ban is overturned?

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Dave Zawislak / March 24, 2010 10:48 AM

Look at the history of the dealings that went with Mayor Byrne and how it was meant to be victim disarmament to make them easier prey for the criminal elements in the city.

Ramsin / March 24, 2010 11:13 AM

Can you be more specific Dave?

Conor, I'm not sure what I think of the ban. I don't think we should be narrowly interpreting rights in the Bill of the Rights; but we (all of us) obviously accept that there are common sense regulations to gun control (can't have them in schools or federal buildings, can't own surface-to-air missiles).

I still haven't seen a convincing study that more guns = less or more public safety. That's what I'd like to see before I made a decision.

RAStewart / March 24, 2010 2:35 PM

I'm sitting right there with you on the undecided bench, Ramsin. It's difficult to look at Chicago's homicide figures and say that the present ban is making us safe. (Especially as I'm the first to point to the clear and obvious failure of, say, the so-called "war on drugs.") On the other hand, I look at some of the craziness that goes on in traffic--for instance--and think, "Yikes! Do I want some of these people to have guns in their hands?"

RAStewart / March 24, 2010 2:58 PM

Oh, and would I buy a gun if the ban is overturned? No. I'm lucky enough to live and travel in reasonably safe neighborhoods, and I think a substantial case has been made that firearms in the house are as likely, or more, to cause a tragedy than to be used in a successful self-defense. Not to mention that I don't live alone; there are others in my household to consider, who would not be happy with that idea at all.

conor / March 24, 2010 3:52 PM

Dave - I second Ramsin's request - would love to hear more about that, unless you're the type of person that just drops a little nugget like that to flex your knowledge without being willing to share it.

The whole concept of banning the legal ownership of guns to combat criminal use of guns seems violently illogical to me, but I'll agree with you both that I'd like to see some definitive studies pushing either way.

RAStewart - has a substantial case been made that firearms in the household are as likely or more to cause a tragedy than to be used in successful self-defense? It seems to me that competent firearm safety training would make that highly unlikely, especially in homes with children where the parents make the wise choice of educating their kids about danger and proper handling.

Regarding the scary drivers - I think we're far from concealed carry being legalized in Chicago.

James K / March 24, 2010 4:03 PM

live by the sword, die by the sword. i live in an unsafe neighborhood (though not one in chicago, presently). i really don't see, though, how my having a gun would make any shooting or other violent situation better. it's hard for me to imagine that my (righteous) violence is going to make my neighborhood more humane and solve the problem of criminal violence.

RAStewart / March 25, 2010 11:29 AM

Conor--you questioned whether a substantial case, etc. ... had actually been made, and on looking into the matter a bit, I'm less sure than I was. This may be another area where objective data, without an agenda one way or another, are hard to find. To be sure, if I ever were to buy a gun, I and everyone in the household would get thorough safety training. I think you're correct that we're far from even seriously considering concealed-carry in Chicago; the likeliest outcome if the SC does force a change would seem to be a provision for at-home possession, presumably (I would hope) with stringent regulations. That would probably not lead to Armageddon, maybe not even Armageddon Lite.

Thanks for opening up a reasoned discussion on this.

Mike / March 25, 2010 8:54 PM

If being armed made people safer, cops and gang bangers would never get shot. In 1993 I had a gun stuck in my face during a robbery. In 2003 I saw my friend get shot in the head and killed by some piece of shit passing us on the sidewalk -- no motive or reason for it. In both cases my having a gun wouldn't have done any good. Life's not like the movies. Usually when someone gets shot it's very anticlimactic to the witnesses ... to the point that you almost laugh because it seems so ridiculous. And most robberies are over before the victim can fully process what's happening. Allowing Chicagoans to own handguns won't have any noticeable effect on crime. Just as many innocents will be victims and just as many bad guys will keep shooting other bad guys.

Dave Zawislak / April 20, 2010 3:58 PM

Sorry about taking so long to get back.

Dave Zawislak / April 20, 2010 4:01 PM


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