Freedomnomics

Article published Monday, July 12, 2010, at Fox News.

Let's Face It, Chicago's Mayor Richard Daley Wants to Ban Guns, All Guns

By John R. Lott, Jr.

As always, gun control proponents say they merely want "reasonable" gun control laws. Yet, when listing the actual laws they favor, they go well beyond what most people would possibly consider "reasonable." Just look at the gun bans in Chicago and Washington, D.C. that local politicians and gun control organizations such as the Violence Policy Center and the Violence Policy Center have fought to protect.

Today, exactly two weeks after the Supreme Court struck down Chicago's handgun ban, the city's strict new gun control laws go into effect. These new restrictions surely do not seem "reasonable" but rather intended to make life as difficult as possible for those who legally want to own a gun. Among the regulations is a complete ban on selling guns in Chicago. Also five hours of training is required, which may seem reasonable, but that training is forbidden to take place within the Chicago city limits.

And the list of odd restrictions in Chicago goes on. While people can own a handgun for protection in their homes, it only applies to some parts of what most people would consider their home: the gun cannot be used for self-defense in one's yard or garage, nor on your porch, even if it is enclosed. But certainly a garage is a possible place for criminals to strike. Is it "reasonable" that if criminals attack a family member in the garage, you aren't allowed to effectively defend them?

Further, Chicagoans are permitted to own only one handgun that is "in operating order." If you own a jewelry store that criminals might want to rob, forget it. You cannot even place your one functional handgun in your business instead of your home if you think that is the best place to put it.

Multiple residences or a very large house would not qualify for more than one gun either.

Break any of these or the numerous other regulations and you face up to a $5,000 fine and 90 days in jail.

For the second offense, the fine goes up to $10,000 and jail time goes up to six months.

Then there are the various fees and other costs of obtaining a handgun legally. A comparison with the First Amendment is useful: If Chicago were to put a tax on newspapers, even just a penny, courts would throw it out as an abridgment of freedom of speech. Why should the Second Amendment be treated any differently?

Apparently, the city of Chicago sees no constitutional problem in imposing a $100 Chicago Firearms Permit fee plus another $15 per firearm (even on the non-operational ones) every three years. A valid Illinois Firearm Owner's Identification (FOID) card is also required, at a cost of $10, although it seems redundant as the Chicago permit and the Illinois FOID card do the same things. On an annual basis, Chicago's fees are about 2.5 times the cost for the average concealed handgun permit.

Administrative costs are not an excuse as the Chicago fees are well exceed the costs of running the permit and registration system. Given that training requirements for concealed handgun permits don't make people who carry guns more effective at deterring criminals nor less accident prone, there is no evidence that Chicago's training requirements will make gun owners better at owning guns. What training requirements do is reduce the number of gun owners. The five hour training class, which includes one hour of range training, and the extra costs government imposes on those who want to get a single gun will run at least $200.

Let's face it, Mayor Richard Daley wants to ban guns, all guns. And he thinks that a complete ban is a "reasonable" regulation. The Supreme Court has ruled that he is not allowed to ban guns, but this is not going to change his mind about guns in the slightest. Daley now wants to place as restrictive rules as he thinks that the courts will let him get away with. Pretending that these rules are anything more than an attempt to limit gun ownership as much as possible is simply dishonest.

John R. Lott Jr. is a FOXNews.com contributor. He is an economist and the author of "More Guns, Less Crime (University of Chicago Press, 2010), the third edition of which was published in May.".

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