- - Thursday, April 24, 2014

Forty persons were shot, nine fatally, in Chicago over the Easter weekend in the sort of killing spree that’s not supposed to happen. Chicago, after all, is home of some of the nation’s toughest laws to outlaw “gun violence.” They’re obviously not working.

Chicago’s declining homicide tally is “still ahead of where we were last year,” police Superintendent Garry McCarthy says, noting that the city counted 415 homicides in 2013, down 18 percent from the 503 of the year before. Predictably, the sort of folks who faint at the sight of a pistol used the bloody weekend carnage as an occasion to demand more gun-control measures that don’t work. “The studies show when there’s more restrictive gun laws, there’s less gun violence,” he says, ignoring the evidence.

Whatever improvement there has been in Chicago’s homicide rate could easily be credited to the gradual and grudging loosening of the city’s gun laws. Four years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court declared Chicago’s 28-year-old handgun ban unconstitutional. A ban of gun sales was overturned in February, and Illinois became the 50th state to enable residents to carry concealed weapons last year. The City Council and the Illinois legislature still try to discourage the law-abiding citizen from attempting to defend himself.

Georgia has a healthier attitude. State legislators there have been going through state laws, looking for archaic gun-control restrictions to strike from the books. Beginning July 1, law-abiding residents may take guns into taverns without restriction. They’ll also be allowed to enter churches, schools and government buildings under certain circumstances. “At the same time,” says Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal, a Republican, “this bill respects the rights of private-property owners, who still set the rules for their land and their buildings.”


Predictably, opponents of the expansion of gun rights predict the Georgia law signed this week will provoke a shootout in every saloon, and blood will spill at altars and into the streets. It never works out that way. Virginia ditched its pointless ban on guns in bars four years ago. When the Richmond Times-Dispatch went looking for crimes committed by a concealed-carry permit holder, it could only find one randy man with such a permit, and he had propositioned a waitress. Violent crime at drinking establishments dropped 5 percent.

Respecting Virginians’ right to keep and bear arms makes the commonwealth a safer place. Last year, there were just eight homicides in all of Fairfax County, five in Alexandria and none in Arlington County. The District of Columbia counted 103 homicides, despite its gun restrictions designed to keep residents from arming themselves. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who never wants a crisis to go to waste, should take some tips from Georgia and Virginia.