Articles Tagged with gun laws

diana-feil-226524-copy-200x300It is a sad fact, but it is still a true one: Gun violence in Chicago, Illinois is steadily climbing higher and higher. The amount of gun crimes taking place in the city is reaching what some consider to be an epidemic level, making residents feel fearful and unsafe. Meanwhile, there are two opposing camps that are warring over the best way to deal with the gun crime rates in the Windy City: Those who feel that more gun control is needed, and those who feel like less is needed. With gun violence on the rise and crime rates at unpleasant numbers, it is making dealing with the law itself increasingly difficult.

The Second Amendment

Until recently, guns could not even be purchased inside of Chicago. The local laws banned the sale of guns within the city limits. However, in 2016, this law was ruled as unconstitutional. Strong advocates of the Second Amendment were thrilled, but those in favor of gun control were not quite so happy with the outcome. Whatever the case, it became a fact of life: Guns were easier to obtain in Chicago. There is little evidence at the moment that gun laws were being broken either before or after this occurred, so the jury is still out on any strong connection.

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A new study out of the Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health finds that lawful gun owners commit less than a fifth of gun crimes in the United States. The study traced the origins of every firearm recovered from crime scenes in 2008 and found that in roughly eight out of ten cases the perpetrator had been in illegal possession of the gun at the time of the crime. The study focused on how legally purchased firearms ended up at crime scenes and found that more than 30% of the guns had been stolen.

However, firearms enter the black market in a variety of other ways, as well. For example, an article from the Washington Post notes that many guns wind up on the black market via “straw purchases.” A straw purchase occurs when an individual with a clean record purchases a gun from a legal dealer and then passes the gun along to someone else who could not legally purchase the weapon. Gangs often orchestrate straw purchases and sometimes even have a designated member who maintains a clean record in order to furnish other gang members with firearms. According to a study conducted by the University of Chicago Crime Lab, criminals in Chicago also tend to acquire illegal firearms mostly via personal connections.

Who is Legally Prohibited from Owning a Firearm in Illinois?

Despite Illinois’ recent enactment of its concealed-carry gun law, some gun rights advocates are still not happy – and, they are taking their dissatisfaction to federal court.  In a motion filed earlier this month by Mary Shepard, and backed by the Illinois State Rifle Association, she asserts that having to wait several months for the permit process to be outlined is an unjustified abridgment of her Second Amendment rights.  Shepard, a gun owner from Cobden, Illinois, was 69 at the time she was brutally attacked (along with her 83-year old coworker) and left for dead by Willis Bates, a paroled felon, as he burglarized the First Baptist Church where she worked.  As a result, she argues that had she been able to carry a gun at the time of the incident (back in 2009), she would have been able to thwart the attack and protect herself.

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By way of background, the new law was passed on July 9, despite Governor Pat Quinn’s rather vehement objections, barely meeting the deadline set by the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals to create the legislation.  Pursuant to its terms, Illinois State Police are charged with the responsibility of setting up a permit program before concealed-carry applications can be submitted. Specifically, the police have 180 days with which to complete this process, and an additional 90 days to process the application forms that they receive.  As a result, Shepard and several other gun rights advocates feel that the aforementioned timeframe is way too long and perpetuates Illinois’ long-standing gun ban until the permit process is up and running.  In her court filing, Shepard provides that “the delay proposed by the state constitutes an unacceptable perpetuation of the defendants’ infringement of the Second Amendment rights of Ms. Shepard and the other law-abiding citizens of the state of Illinois”, and further insists that “no Wild West anarchy would ensue” if the U.S. District judge, the Honorable William Stiehl, ruled in her favor.

In response to Shepard’s arguments, the State of Illinois has fired back, stating that her case is completely moot and therefore, should be dismissed.  According to the State, it asserts that the law provides Shepard with what she wanted all along – the right to conceal and carry a gun.  Moreover, it further argues that the timeframe allotted to the Illinois State Police to develop the permit program should be allowed to run its course.   Notwithstanding both the State and Ms. Shepard’s respective positions, no hearing date has been set by Judge Stiehl to rule on the matter.
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