Gun control - Chicago Style (or bring a bat to the fight)

In the midst of gun control legislation offered by various Senators, from an assault weapons ban and magazine limits, to the now pre-eminent gun control bill in the Senate, Manchin-Toomey, I thought I would share with you gun control, Chicago-style, a.k.a. bring a bat to the fight.

The City of Chicago has some of the toughest, strictest gun laws in the country.  In 2010, the City Council still under the aegis of Mayor Richard M. Daley, hastily passed [emphasis mine] “The Responsible Gun Ownership” ordinance (h/t The Reader):

The “Responsible Gun Ownership” ordinance allows any adult in Chicago with a clean record to register one handgun a month for self-defense at home—but only one gun at a time can be “assembled and operable,” and the owner can’t take it out of the home, even into the backyard. The weapons have to be registered with the state and city, and their owners must be trained and fingerprinted. Guns in homes where minors live have to be locked away or equipped with trigger locks. And anyone convicted of a gun offense is required to disclose the information in a publicly accessible registry modeled after those for convicted sex offenders.

The keywords here are “self-defense at home.”

The April 9 surveillance tape below was taken at the Logan Square neighborhood gift shop, Quizhpe’s Gifts and Sports.  The tape reveals the robbery and shooting of proprietor, Luis Quizhpe, who despite being shot in the thigh, refused to give in and fought back his assailants with a baseball bat, swinging for his life.  Yes, you read right.  A baseball bat against two gun-armed thugs.  Quizhpe’s brother, also present during the robbery and who fought alongside his brother, remarked that the shooter “ran out of bullets because he stopped shooting at us.”   The police found 10 shell casings on the ground.  You think those robbers had FOID cards?

So as the pols in Washington push for broader universal background checks, and stiffer penalties for criminals and others who fail to comply with the law, let’s consider Chicago as the microcosm epicenter of gun control, and how it’s working out.  As The Reader’s columnist reports,

“But only a small portion of gun owners have jumped through all the hoops. About a year after the new law went into effect, 3,153 people had completed the city’s permitting process, a mere 3 percent of the Chicagoans who’d completed state firearm registration.

Things haven’t improved much since then, according to new data from the police department. By the end of February, 7,750 people had successfully applied for city firearm permits—just 6 percent of the 130,000 Chicagoans who have FOID cards. Though not everyone with a FOID card owns a gun—and some gun owners, including police and security guards, are exempt from permits—it’s evident that thousands of firearm owners still aren’t adhering to the city law.”

Number of people shot in Chicago, 2012:  2670

Number of people shot in Chicago as of March 25, 2013:  369

Number of homicides in Chicago, 2012: 535

Number of homicides in Chicago as of April 11: 93

Senator Pat Toomey has stated that his legislation would not have stopped a Newtown shooting. but a universal background check system will be implemented in part to keep firearms out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill.  Except Adam Lanza’s mother was not mentally ill.

“Another key part of the city’s 2010 firearm ordinance was the creation of a gun-offender registry. The idea was that parolees would be required to register with the police department as sex offenders are. Police would then have a database to help them keep track of felons likely to be mixed up in violence.

But even now the registry consists of just 490 names, a fraction of the former gun offenders in the city. In 2011 alone, 1,700 people were paroled after serving time in Illinois prisons on weapons offenses, the vast majority for gun crimes in Chicago. Thousands of others were paroled for gun-related murders, burglaries, and robberies.” (The Reader)

Luis Quizphe, through his quick thinking and refusal to be a victim survived this incident.  But how many more like him do not.  Had Quizphe had a firearm on premises (long guns are permitted by Chicago ordinance), would it have made a difference.  Possibly.  We don’t know.

While gun control legislation makes great political theater and gives some a feel good, we’re taking action kind of moment, is more gun control legislation the answer?  Or, should we start enforcing what’s already on the books.

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