Chicago's 2nd Amendment Chokehold

Down here in West Texas, I keep a handgun in my car and usually one somewhere on my person. My habits are not novel: For I live among people who understand and value our inherent right to keep and bear arms, as well as our right to self-defense.

Yet in many parts of the country, like Chicago, where handgun ownership was banned in 1982, the norm is quite different.

In the Windy City, men like Otis McDonald, a 76 year-old retiree, tell stories of being prisoners in their own homes: unable to defend either their property or their lives because they are denied access to the very tool our Founders believed belonged in the hands of all “free men.” That tool is a gun. And for someone in McDonald’s position, having one or not could spell the difference between living and dying on that city’s crime-ridden streets.

When the Supreme Court struck down Washington D.C.’s gun ban last June, in the now famous Heller decision, groups like Illinois Rifle Association (IRA) and the National Rifle Association (NRA) promised to file suits to overturn the ban in Chicago as well. Meanwhile, Chicago’s Mayor Richard Daley could only say the Heller verdict was going to result in “more guns on the street [which would]…make it more challenging for law enforcement." Of course he didn’t explain how “more guns” in the hands of law abiding citizens would make things more challenging for law enforcement.

Come to think of it, liberals never have demonstrated that guns in the hands of law-abiding citizens make a policeman’s job tougher.  Nor have they yet disproven John Lott’s seminal work that shows “more guns [equal] less crime.”

But Daley, never one to let facts get in the way of a liberal policy, is on record claiming an “[end] to Chicago’s handgun ban would spark new violence and force the city to raise taxes to pay for new police.” How liberal does Daley have to be to view the possible end of a handgun ban as a justification for raising taxes?

Fortunately, neither the IRA nor the NRA were dissuaded Daley’s huffing and puffing, as they were both party to the lawsuit filed against Chicago’s gun ban by McDonald last year. McDonald explained his suit thus: “Rightfully, we are due the [gun] to protect ourselves in our homes, and there’s nothing wrong with us having that.” His words bring to mind those spoken by President George Washington over two centuries ago: “Free men ought to be armed.”

Sadly, however, the 7th Court of Appeals refused to overturn the Chicago ban after hearing McDonald’s case, claiming the Supreme Court had not explicitly applied the Heller ruling to cities and municipalities outside of D.C.

The 7th Court’s opinion was echoed by Chicago’s Corporation Counsel Mara Georges, who said Chicago’s gun ban “continues to be valid law…[because] the Supreme Court did not say that the Second Amendment right to bear arms extends to state and local governments.”

So McDonald appealed his case to Supreme Court, and on Wednesday September 30, 2009, news broke that the high court will hear the appeal during its 2009-2010 term. This means the 7th Court of Appeals, Mayor Daley, Mara Georges, and every criminal in Chicago who’s grown accustomed to accosting unarmed victims may need to be brace themselves for a dose of reality.

The very Mayor Daley who angrily responded to the Heller verdict by asking rhetorically, “Why don’t we do away with the court system and go back to the Old West, [where] you have a gun and I have a gun, and we’ll settle it in the streets?” may soon realize what so many of us around the country already know: They’re already settling it in the streets of Chicago Mr. Daley. The only problem is that the settlements are all going the criminal’s way.
Hopefully, if the Supreme Court is consistent with the Heller decision as the case against Chicago’s ban goes forward, millions of law-abiding citizens will soon recapture the right to keep and bear arms. Then, men like Otis McDonald will be able to fight back against the criminals “that want to control [him], [his] family, [and his] property.”

He’s said all along that that is all he wants to be able to do.