On Monday, U.S. District Judge Edmond Chang – an Obama appointee, for anyone keeping score – struck down Chicago’s sweeping ban on the retail sale of guns in the city. The law went so far as prohibiting family members from giving guns to each other as gifts.
According to National Rifle Association lobbyist Todd Vandermyle, quoted in the Chicago Tribune, the judge rejected all of the city’s arguments in a slam-dunk ruling. He wondered how much money Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel would be willing to spend on fruitless efforts to impose blatantly unconstitutional gun laws. Given that it’s other people’s money Emanuel would be spending, I suspect the answer is “quite a bit.” Judge Chang stayed his ruling to allow for appeals, so the waste of public money will doubtless begin promptly.
Who the heck ever thought a draconian ban on the sale of firearms was even remotely compatible with the Second Amendment? Follow-up question: who in their right minds ever thought it would make a difference? Even defenders of the Chicago law have been complaining that it’s easy for criminals to buy weapons elsewhere and drive them back into the city. Well, duh. Gang-bangers aren’t much interested in the kind of gun sales Chicago has been banning. And of course, as anyone even slightly familiar with Chicago knows, all these ham-fisted, Constitution-shredding gun laws haven’t been doing much to slow down the tide of violence. The gun-free utopia of Chicago has more shootings than Afghanistan on its livelier weekends.
This is what happens when you put ideological blinkers on a city government. They pass ridiculous heavy-handed measures that primarily impede and inconvenience the law-abiding, and make the elites feel good about themselves. Politicians boast about all the laws they’ve passed, but mumble and shuffle their feet uncomfortably when asked how much crime they’re stopping. Increasing amounts of power and responsibility are transferred to governments with a demonstrated inability to protect their citizens – the more they fail, the more authority they demand. Americans really need to stop allowing their local, state, and federal agencies to grow through failure.
In his decision, Judge Chang said the Chicago law “goes too far in outright banning legal buyers and legal dealers from engaging in lawful acquisitions and lawful sales of firearms, and at the same time the evidence does not support that the complete ban sufficiently furthers the purposes that the ordinance tries to serve.” It’s a bit ominous that he implies a higher degree of effectiveness could allow the ordinances to stand. We will forever argue about the merits of various regulations, including those placed upon the sale and transfer of firearms, but there comes a point at which the Constitution steps in, and effectiveness really shouldn’t be an issue any more. The point of having a Constitutional right is that no argument from any level of government can be good enough to completely erase it, not without passing an amendment.
Fox News relates the painful education of Chicago elites on the subject of legislative over-reach in recent years:
The decision is just the latest to attack what were some of the toughest gun-control laws in the nation. In 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Chicago’s long-standing gun ban. And last year, Illinois legislators were forced by a federal appeals court to adopt a law allowing residents to carry concealed weapons in Illinois, the only state that still banned the practice. The resulting state law largely stripped city and officials of surrounding Cook County of their authority to regulate guns, which especially irked officials in Chicago, where residents had to apply for concealed-carry permits through the police chief.
It’s long past time for the good people of Chicago to stop giving a damn about what “irks” their inept ruling class. “All the people I know who own guns legally are really careful,” said one of the plaintiffs who challenged the city’s gun sales ban. “I’m a collector; my guns are not going anywhere unless I know where they’re going, because I don’t want to be responsible for someone’s death.” Draconian gun laws are an insult to people like this, a gesture of disrespect from the political elite to citizens they profoundly distrust. They’re treating everyone like a criminal… and that suits the actual criminals just fine.
There are no easy quick fixes to a crime problem like the one gripping Chicago… so it would be helpful if the city’s one-party political machine stopped pretending otherwise. (As long as the machine faces no realistic opposition at the ballot box, it’s not likely to abandon any of its pretenses.) Allowing law-abiding citizens to defend themselves would be a gesture of trust, a reasonable acknowledgement that the city’s hard-working police force can’t be everywhere, and a humble admission that social harmony is not one magic liberal program away. As long as the city keeps voting for politicians who peddle such illusions, it’s not likely to get any better.