Opinion: Did Overturning The Handgun Law Lead to More Shootings?

Editor's Note: Edward McClelland is an opinion writer, and this column explains his opinion on second amendment rights. Please keep the discussion about this opinion piece in the below commenting section, and on social media, clean and respectful. Racially charged or threatening comments will be moderated.

For anyone looking for a reason as to why Chicagoans are shooting each other more often, how about this one: it’s now legal to own a handgun here.

The Supreme Court issued its McDonald v. Chicago decision, which held that local governments do not have the right to write their own gun control laws, in 2010. The decision overturned the city’s handgun ban, and the police department began issuing permits later that year.

Since the beginning of this year, 120 people have been murdered in Chicago. That’s a 60 percent increase over 2010 and 2011. It’s affecting every neighborhood. During one weekend in January, there were three murders within a mile of my apartment in Rogers Park: one young man’s body was found in a park. His killer committed suicide a few hours later. Two others were shot to death as they drove down Sheridan Road. Their SUV crashed into a pole and knocked it down.

Two weekends ago, on Morse Avenue, several gunmen jumped out of an SUV and sprayed a van with bullets. They didn’t hit anyone, but the van crashed into several cars as the driver frantically tried to escape death. The attack was reportedly part of a gang turf war. In response, the alderman and the police commissioner held a “positive loitering” patrol last Saturday night. I’ve lived around Howard Street for 15 years, but last weekend was the first time I’ve been reluctant to walk it after dark.

I am relating this for the benefit of Second Amendment Absolutists in places like Effingham and Sandoval, because I live in the real world of uncontrolled guns. They don’t. These rural Constitutional scholars believe in the principle that anyone should be allowed to own any gun, without any restrictions. It’s easy for them to say, because they don’t suffer the consequences of their fanatical ideology.

Neither does the Supreme Court, which interprets the Constitution without considering the real-world consequences of its decisions. The gun lobby’s solution to the misuse of guns -- laws prohibiting criminals from owning firearms -- does not work. First of all, it only takes effect after someone commits a crime with a gun. Second of all, most “illegal guns” are guns that were legally issued, then stolen.

In February, Chicago wrote a $399,950 check to the Second Amendment Foundation, to reimburse the gun rights group for legal fees in McDonald v. Chicago. The Second Amendment Foundation should reimburse Chicago ten times that amount, for all the mayhem that decision is causing.

Buy this book! Ward Room blogger Edward McClelland's book, Young Mr. Obama: Chicago and the Making of a Black President , is available Amazon. Young Mr. Obama includes reporting on President Obama's earliest days in the Windy City, covering how a presumptuous young man transformed himself into presidential material. Buy it now!

Contact Us