Anyone who believes Chicago’s high murder rate is a result of its gun control laws is an idiot.
Anyone who believes Chicago can cut its murder rate by passing more gun control laws is also an idiot.
Among right-wing gun fondlers, it is fashionable to point out that Chicago, the city with the strictest gun control laws, is also the city with the most murders -- and then to assert a cause-and-effect relationship between those two facts.
Gun control policies don’t work because they disarm citizens while keeping criminals in possession of guns. Chicago’s strict policies have effectively given lawbreakers a monopoly on weapons in many parts of the city that the Chicago Police Department cannot or will not police effectively.
A nice contrast to Chicago for a natural experiment is Houston. Houston is very similar to Chicago in terms of socioeconomic factors such as population, density, and segregation. Houston, like Chicago, is a major center for illegal activities such as the drug trade and human trafficking. Despite all this, Houston has a murder rate two-thirds that of Chicago. This is because the people of Houston are well armed, while innocents in Chicago have been condemned to be sitting ducks.
The fact is, in a nation with 300 million guns -- more guns per capita, by far, than any other nation in the world -- local gun laws are meaningless. As long as guns are available anywhere in the United States, they’re going to find their way to Chicago. No ordinance can prevent a gun from crossing Howard Street or Cicero Avenue.
Only a national gun control policy can keep guns off the streets of Chicago. After a crazed gunman killed 34 people in Tasmania in 1996, Australia enacted strict gun control laws -- and the firearm death rate dropped 59 percent in the next decade.
Considering, though, that there are more guns in the U.S. than in any other country, and that our gun culture is enshrined in the Constitution, it’s unthinkable that we would pass gun laws as strict as Australia’s -- let alone Japan’s, which averages two gun murders a year.
Our uniquely American challenge is to come up with strategies for managing conflicts among members of an alienated underclass who have access to all the weapons they need to kill each other. Gun control is not the reason for Chicago’s high murder rate. Unfortunately, it’s not the answer, either.