Chicago needs fewer guns, not more

By Editorial Board

Many Chicagoans have decided to take a controversial safety precaution amid the city’s high crime rates, according to a March 10 DNAinfo article. 

DNAinfo reported a 63 percent surge in state-issued gun permits in 2016—Chicago’s bloodiest year in two decades—with many reportedly purchasing guns for precautionary, safety reasons. The number of Chicagoans with “concealed carry” permits also has jumped dramatically since 2015—from 13,948 to 22,517. 

The State Police Firearms Services Bureau reminded applicants on its website to be patient while waiting for their identification cards because it is experiencing record numbers of applications every month, according to the article. 

However, Chicago’s history with guns used to be a lot stricter. The city’s expansion of gun rights is the result of a series of court orders that found city and state bans unconstitutional. As a result, Illinois was required to authorize a concealed carry law in 2013 while Chicago had to legalize handgun possession in 2010 and gun stores in 2014.

Chicagoans are justified in feeling unsafe given the uptick in violent crime, but more guns are not the answer.  Methods of protection do not have to be lethal. Guns should always be the last resort. 

According to the DNAinfo article, Edison Park and Norwood Park—in the northwest corner of the city—and Morgan Park and Mount Greenwood—in the southwest corner—have the highest per capita number of gun permits. 

The Northwest side isn’t known for crime, but in the last year multiple instances of criminal activity have occurred near the area, including the fatal shooting of a 24-year-old woman on March 18, 2016, while she sat in a parked car in the Belmont Gardens neighborhood, according to a Chicago Tribune article published the same day. 

Because instances like this are rare on the Northwest side compared to other areas of Chicago, the residents’ response may have been overzealous. Perhaps these residents think concealed carry will protect their home and families—a distinctly white working-class ideology—but this wave of paranoia is leading to more guns in the city, and that is the last thing Chicago needs.

If Chicagoans are feeling the need to purchase guns for protection—though it likely won’t provide additional safety—training must be increased. To legally buy a handgun, ammunition or a stun gun in the city, Chicagoans must possess a state-issued firearm owner’s identification card that costs $10 covers a background check to detect criminal convictions and recorded mental health conditions. The $150 concealed carry permit, which is valid for five years, requires 16 hours of training including three to four hours gun-range practice. 

Fighting violence with more violence is never the answer. It is imperative that everyone who either purchases and registers a gun or applies for a concealed carry permit does so with no plans to use it.