Chicago: Minimum Gun Rights

Nam Y. Huh / AP Photo

A federal judge instructed Chicago in January that it was not free simply to ban gun stores from operating in the city. Chicago mayor and former Presidential chief of staff Rahm Emanuel went to work and now has presented a proposed gun store ordinance to the City Council.

As you would expect, it is a masterpiece of hypocrisy. While making a show of compliance with the judge's order, the new law would effectively continue the ban by other means.

Chicago has a land area of 246 square miles. There are skyscraper blocks downtown, long stretches of bungalows farther out, run-down industrial districts. You'd think there would be plenty of spots for a nice gun store, right?

Wrong. The proposed ordinance forbids gun stores near parks, schools and in such a profusion of other places that the Emanuel administration itself states that a store could be located only in about  .05% of Chicago. That's just over one square mile, by my calculator.

And if you, Mr. Prospective Gun Dealer, were somehow able to locate that sliver of real estate where a store would be allowed, you'd have to get the support of your alderman, since those 50 local satraps effectively control what gets built in their wards. And since they are pretty much all liberal Democrats, good luck getting that sign-off.

If, in the extremely unlikely event you were able to open a store, every gun sale would have to be videotaped,  you'd be able to sell any customer no more than one handgun per month, and customers would have to wait three days to take possession of a handgun, one day for a rifle. The city would be free to audit your books every three months. That's supposedly to discourage trafficking, but given Chicago's rich history of political intimidation and other shenanigans, there are probably quite a few potential customers who'd just as soon not have someone from the city government knowing they have a gun.

So if you have the money to afford Chicago real estate and can jump through all those hoops, by all means, open a gun store!

Gun ownership, and by extension, gun selling, is a constitutional right. Would it be acceptable to tell a church it can't open within 500 feet of a school or a newsstand it can't be within 500 feet of a park? Of course not. At least for the moment, no one would think of restricting First Amendment rights that way, though if you think the First Amendment is sacrosanct, I invite you to examine our college campuses.

Emanuel is doing what he thinks is the absolute minimum required to comply with the court order. The proposed ordinance is an insult to the court, which should send him back to the drawing board.

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