Gun Purchase

Chicago Fights Gun Rights, and Loses

by Steve Chapman |  |  published on January 10, 2014

Since the death of communism in most of the places where it once prevailed, North Korea and Cuba function mainly as educational exhibits for an irrelevant and unsuccessful ideology. When it comes to the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms, the city of Chicago fills a similar role.

The city is famous for some of the strictest gun laws in the country. In 1982, it approved a near-total ban on handguns. In 1992, it outlawed “assault weapons.” Mayors and aldermen never tired of railing against firearms.

In 2008, when the Supreme Court struck down a handgun ban in Washington, D.C., it was clear that Chicago was on what liberals often refer to, in other contexts, as the wrong side of history. But the people in City Hall were either not smart enough or not honest enough to make peace with change. They preferred to emulate the cavalry troops in “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” who rallied to the call, “Charge for the guns!” despite the certainty of defeat.

In the 2008 verdict, the justices said the Second Amendment upholds an individual right to possess firearms for self-defense. But the city fought a legal challenge to its handgun ban—only to lose, predictably, in the Supreme Court.

Besides being a legal and policy setback, it was a loss for taxpayers, who had to pay not only the cost of defending the ordinance but the cost of challenging it. Chicago was obliged to pay $1.4 million to the National Rifle Association, which won the lawsuit.

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