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July 8, 2014

Chicago’s Mayor Knows How to Play Hard Ball

The Chicago City Council with great reluctance in the last full week of June ended its long-standing prohibition and approved an ordinance intended to satisfy a federal court order to allow firearms retailers to open within the city limits. Mayor Rahm Emmanuel made certain that the regulations were written to be extensive, rigid and difficult to meet.

Among other requirements, stores would have to maintain a sales log of gun sales that duplicates existing federal requirements. Once open, retailers could sell one handgun a month to a buyer. Then, if the city revokes a store’s business license for violating the ordinance, it could not reopen at the same location for three years. The cost of that license was pegged at $3,800. We can easily envision a gauntlet of city inspectors awaiting a store owner seeking to open for business.

Of special concern is establishment of so-called “special-use zoning” that would seem to eliminate 99.5 percent of Chicago’s land area from ever seeing a store

It seems safe to say, that the city’s political machine wants to make sure that no store opens without considerable and sustained dint of effort. All the warning lights are flashing: “Not welcome.”  Court order or not, the mayor and the council he controls are pursuing gun control by other means – Chicago style. Legal challenges seem likely and the process will drag out.

Blaming firearms retailers for violent urban crime has been a hallmark of politics for decades. Chicago politicians, in particular, have excelled at this straw-man tactic. What they have never done and are unlikely ever to do is to acknowledge that firearms retailers do not want to sell guns to criminals or to those who would hand them over to criminals in a straw purchase. That is not their political narrative, but it is the truth and the reason the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) was put into place by Congress in 1998 at the urging of the firearms industry.

Knowing that Chicago politicians have preferred to blame retailers over tackling the extremely difficult task of addressing the real causes of urban violence is one reason we brought the largest investment NSSF has made to date in a Don’t Lie for the Other Guy public information campaign to Chicago, Detroit and Flint earlier this year. The bulk of that outdoor and radio advertising buy was in Chicago. We would point out that Mayor Emmanuel did not take note of this campaign, even though we bought outdoor space where he could hardly have missed the message. That’s all right. We didn’t expect a bouquet.

Court order or not, Rahm Emmanuel and the Chicago City Council under his control are still working to curtail the lawful commerce in firearms. It doesn’t matter to them that their citizens’ right to keep and bear arms for self-defense was reiterated by the U.S. Supreme Court in two decisions in recent years. It was those decisions that ultimately resulted in the very court order with which that mayor is doing his best to minimally comply – in the name of perpetuating a false public safety narrative.

It’s hardball politics as usual in Chicago.

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