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Chicago, Guns, and Obama



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It seems that the president has finally noticed that his hometown of Chicago is a hotbed of gun violence. Consequently, the Chicago Tribune records:

President Barack Obama will visit Chicago on Friday, when he will discuss gun violence as he focuses on his economic message from Tuesday’s State of the Union address, according to the White House.

Obama will “talk about the gun violence that has tragically affected too many families in communities across Chicago and across the country,” a White House official said in a statement.

The president’s visit answers calls from Chicago anti-violence activists that Obama talk about the recent spate of gun violence in the city, several of the activists said.

“This is an important issue,” said Cathy Cohen, founder of the Black Youth Project, which attracted about 45,000 signatures by Sunday night in an online petition that urges Obama to speak up. “We think of this as a victory for all of us.”

It might strike some as peculiar that the president will be visiting a city with some of the strictest gun laws in the country in order to make the case for stricter gun laws. But not everybody. Chicago’s police superintendent appears not to have noticed the laws, nor their effect on his city’s remarkable crime rate. Per Mediaite:

“One of the things that I would like to again try to clear up, and I ask you to please stop adopting the rhetoric of the gun advocates,” McCarthy said. “Chicago does not have strict gun laws.”

“The state of Illinois does not have strict gun laws,” McCarthy continued. He said mandatory sentencing would reduce the use of firearms that come into the city from outside Chicago’s limits.

Illinois very much does have “strict gun laws.” They are so strict, in fact, that Illinois is the only state in the union with no provision for citizens to carry concealed weapons — an egregious omission that in December was deemed by the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals to be in violation of the Second Amendment. Illinois was given 180 days to get its act together.

Chicago’s laws are even worse. According to the New York Times:

Not a single gun shop can be found in this city because they are outlawed. Handguns were banned in Chicago for decades, too, until 2010, when the United States Supreme Court ruled that was going too far, leading city leaders to settle for restrictions some describe as the closest they could get legally to a ban without a ban. Despite a continuing legal fight, Illinois remains the only state in the nation with no provision to let private citizens carry guns in public.

And yet Chicago, a city with no civilian gun ranges and bans on both assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, finds itself laboring to stem a flood of gun violence that contributed to more than 500 homicides last year and at least 40 killings already in 2013, including a fatal shooting of a 15-year-old girl on Tuesday.

Gun controllers might consider the president’s visit a “victory for all of us,” but it’s difficult to see why. If a president were to find an appropriate city in which to announce his support for the liberalization of gun laws, Chicago would be his best choice. That he is doing precisely the opposite defies belief.



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