The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling invalidating Illinois’ conceal carry law could only have emanated from the University of Chicago, an institution far more in touch with the thinking of the Washington legal establishment, 800 miles away, than with life on the other side of Cottage Grove Avenue, just a mile away.
It was a University of Chicago professor, John Lott, who wrote the book "More Guns, Less Crime," which helped build the intellectual argument for conceal carry laws. Lott’s book was published in 1998, the year Chicago surpassed New York as the city with the most murders in the United States.
The 7th Circuit’s opinion was written by Judge Richard Posner, who has been on the faculty of the University of Chicago Law School in 1969. It has been suggested that the U of C faculty’s conservative outlook has a basis in geography: Hyde Park is an embattled island of gentility surrounded by water on one side, and poverty on the other three. It was interesting that Posner’s example of a Chicagoan who needs a gun to protect himself is a resident of Park Tower
, a Gold Coast condominium where units run between $1.1 million to $5.7 million. As Posner put it, “a Chicagoan is a good deal more likely to be attacked on a sidewalk in a rough neighborhood than in his apartment on the 35th floor of the Park Tower.”
Posner’s opinion was also an attack on federalism -- normally a cherished conservative principle. He argues that since every other state allows conceal carry, Illinois has no grounds for denying it. Is there, in the Constitution, a provision that automatically makes a law apply to every state once a certain number of states have adopted it?
Remarkably, Illinois is the only state that maintains a flat ban on carrying ready-to-use guns outside the home…It is not that all states but Illinois are indifferent to
the dangers that widespread public carrying of guns may pose. Some may be. But others have decided that a proper balance between the interest in self-defense and the dangers created by carrying guns in public is to limit the right to carry a gun to responsible persons rather than to ban public carriage altogether, as Illinois with its meager exceptions comes close to doing. Even jurisdictions like New York State, where officials have broad discretion to deny applications for gun permits, recognize that the interest in self-defense extends outside the home. There is no suggestion that some unique characteristic of criminal activity in Illinois justifies the state’s taking a different approach from the other 49 states. If the Illinois approach were demonstrably superior, one would expect at least one or two other states to have emulated it.
There is a unique characteristic of criminal activity in Illinois: We have the city with the most murders in the United States. Murders are up over 25 percent this year. We surpassed the 2011 total on Oct. 29. That guns are responsible for this would be evident to anyone with an awareness of the streets of Chicago. But maybe not to someone whose Chicago is confined to the U of C Law Library.