Enforce Existing Firearms Limits

A wave of violence that claims, on average, more than two lives a day is sweeping Chicago. That has brought the typical calls for new laws limiting ownership of firearms in the city.

During the past year, 762 homicides occurred in the Windy City. That is the most in two decades.

Yet Illinois has tough gun laws. The Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence ranks the state eighth in the nation for strong controls on firearms. It is one of only four states that require waiting periods for purchases of all guns — 72 hours for a pistol. Even people purchasing ammunition must show state identification cards.

Gun-control advocates have quoted Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson’s comment that, “we just don’t have a deterrent to pick up a gun.”

But Johnson was speaking of penalties for violating existing laws, not a need for new ones. Last year, Chicago police confiscated 8,300 illegal guns, but punishment for those breaking the law is inadequate, the superintendent has said. “Any time a guy stealing a loaf of bread spends more time pre-trial in jail than a gun offender, something is wrong,” Johnson elaborated.

In Chicago, as elsewhere in the country, viewing new limits on guns as the answer to violence distracts attention from the need to enforce existing laws better. Violent hoodlums continue to ignore the rules, often repeatedly, while law-abiding citizens find their ability to defend themselves curbed.

Clearly, as Chicago demonstrates, it is a vicious cycle in the literal meaning of the adjective.

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