On Tuesday the Chicago Tribune reported that the number of shooting victims in the Windy City so far this year is 2,887. A month earlier the paper tallied 2,703 shootings, resulting in 440 deaths. Doing the math: Chicago could very well record 2,960 shootings resulting in nearly 500 deaths before the end of the year.
And this in a city notorious for an “assault weapons” ban, a “violence tax” on every firearm and round sold, and strict limitations on the number of stores allowed to sell guns.
The obvious inference here, of course, is that gun laws don’t keep guns out of the hands of criminals. But they do restrict the ability of innocents to defend themselves against those criminals.
President Obama, who was a community organizer in Chicago, has no interest in responding intelligently to questions such as: “If guns laws worked, Mr. President, why is your old hometown turning itself into a shooting gallery?” Instead, here's how Obama chose to answer that question back in October when addressing a national gathering of police chiefs in Chicago:
There are those who criticize any gun safety reforms by pointing to my hometown as an example. The problem with that argument, as the Chicago Police Department will tell you, is that 60 percent of guns recovered in crimes come from out of state. You’ve just got to hop across the border [to Indiana].
This is political deflection at its very finest: Set up a straw man to take the blame, thus removing any responsibility from himself.
A few saw through the deception, including Matt Lloyd, Indiana Governor Mike Pence’s spokesman, who asserted: “Blaming Chicago’s crime problems on Indiana is unfortunate and inaccurate.” Another was Indiana State Senator Jim Tomes, who called Obama’s charge “absolutely ridiculous," adding:
It doesn’t matter where the guns come from. It’s a societal problem in Chicago…. I don’t know what in the world Indiana could have to do with their [Chicago police’s] inability to deal with their criminal activity.
Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of the National Rifle Association, thinks Tomes is exactly right:
If the president held a press conference tomorrow morning and directed every federal jurisdiction to round up every felon with a gun, every drug dealer with a gun and every criminal gangbanger with a gun, law enforcement would have thousands of violent thugs in handcuffs and squad cars by sundown.
The simple fact is that a criminal will find a way to obtain a gun, whether it be from a gang member in Indiana, or from a gang member across the street. Gun laws will have no impact on that simple fact.
Missing from the conversation, of course, was any suggestion that innocent Chicagoans be allowed greater freedom to obtain the tools they need to protect themselves. Stringent gun laws, and their enforcement, if sufficiently rigorous to have any impact at all on crime, will turn a free society into a jail. Letting people exercise their right to defend themselves would, on the contrary, extend liberty in that society. As Robert Heinlein famously said, “An armed society is a polite society.” He added, “Manners are good when one may have to back up his acts with his life.”