EDITORIAL: Guns needed to stop Chicago murders

If Chicago were serious about bringing its violent crime problem under control, it would recognize the constitutional right of residents to use firearms to protect themselves.

The city’s troubles are so extreme that a pair of state lawmakers are calling on a fellow Democrat, Gov. Pat Quinn, to deploy the National Guard to help restore calm. The latest figures show that Chicago had racked up 122 homicides for the year, exceeding the 116 killings over the comparable period in 2009, a very bad year. Among the top 10 U.S. cities, Chicago is within shooting distance of advancing from second place to win the dubious distinction of being the U.S. murder capital. It’s no coincidence that the Windy City is already the U.S. gun-control capital.

Since 1982, Chicago has banned the private ownership of handguns and rifles by requiring a convoluted registration process designed to be impossible to complete. Exceptions to the rules enable politicians and their personal friends to own and even carry handguns - but nobody else. This unconstitutional scheme has been a colossal failure. Before the ban took effect, Chicago’s murder rate had been falling relative to the nine other largest cities, the 50 largest cities, the five counties that border Cook County, and the United States as a whole. After the ban, Chicago’s murder rate rose relative to all these locations. During the first 19 years of the ban, there were just three years when the murder rate was as low as when the ban started.

Such facts are not important to Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley, who continues to insist that more gun-control laws are the “solution” to his crime problem - as if hardened thugs carefully consulted the book of municipal ordinances before embarking on a crime spree. A more rational analysis would conclude that the restrictions apply only to good, law-abiding people looking for a way to defend themselves and their families. When the thugs know victims are defenseless, they pounce.

That means it is up to the Supreme Court to restore to Chicagoans their fundamental right to self-defense. In the pending case of McDonald v. Chicago, a number of residents are asking the high court to apply the reasoning it used to strike down Washington’s gun ban. It is worth noting that a year after the landmark District of Columbia v. Heller ruling, Washington’s murder rate dropped 25 percent - without resorting to using the National Guard.

Encouraging personal ownership of guns is the only proven solution to Chicago’s crime problem.

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