Assault Weapons Ban Distracts From Real Gun Control

In the wake of the Newtown Elementary School shooting, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and other Illinois lawmakers have called for stricter gun control laws in the state, mainly, a ban on assault weapons. The massacre in Connecticut occurred the same week the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned Illinois’ ban on concealed carry weapons, giving Lawmakers less than six months to come up with a new law in accordance with the second amendment.

 

“After that [180 day] period, you and I could strap a rifle on our shoulder and walk down Michigan Avenue and there’s nothing anybody could do about it,” says state Rep. Brandon Phelps.

 

Illinois currently does not issue concealed carry licenses, nor does it recognize licenses issued by other states. Illinois is the only state that does not allow so-called concealed carry in some form. To legally possess firearms or ammunition, Illinois residents must have a Firearm Owners Identification card, issued by state police. Possession of automatic firearms, short-barreled shotguns, or short-barreled rifles is strictly prohibited.

Although the city has some of the strictest gun control laws in the country, Chicago has seen 2364 shooting incidents and 487 homicides this year alone. Police Superintendent Gary McCarthy insists that most guns in Chicago are legally purchased but illegally transferred into the city – making the Windy City a shining example of how banning guns doesn’t lower the body count.

This time last year, Chicago Police removed 131 illegal assault rifles, semi-automatic guns and handguns from the streets in one day – brining the total illegal gun removal for 2011 to 7,624. Still, gun control is now being touted as the primary solution to rid our country of violent crimes such as the Newtown shootings.

McCarthy says, “It’s about the availability of fire arms, it’s about the technology of firearms…something’s got to change. They couldn’t do that much damage with a baseball bat, that’s for sure.”

So where are all of Chicago’s guns coming from? According to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms – which tracks all known guns in the United States – less than 1 percent of the 441 federally licensed dealers in the Chicago area are responsible for half of the firearms used in the city’s violent crimes.

Out of all illegal firearms recovered by authorities in Illinois in 2011, the most popular guns by far were pistols (6,050), revolvers (3147), rifles (1,389), and shotguns (1,355).

While the assault weapons ban has taken the forefront on “common sense” gun laws, the two most commonly recovered guns last year were handguns not assault weapons. While it’s easy to ban assault weapons with little pushback, handguns are a different story. A ban on assault weapons may or may not help curb mass shootings like the ones in Newtown or Aurora, but this law will do little to curb the daily shootings in Chicago. This year alone, Chicago has seen the death of 93 children and teens by gun violence – nearly four times the death toll in Newtown. These kids are not being killed by assault weapons; they’re being killed by handguns.