Bob Barr

The better news out of Illinois, however, is that the federal Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit recently issued an opinion authored by well-known judge Richard Posner, striking down as unconstitutional the state’s draconian ban on private carry of firearms.

Posner’s well-researched, logic-based Seventh Circuit opinion noted that, “[a] blanket prohibition on carrying [a] gun in public prevents a person from defending himself anywhere except inside his home.” The jurist went on to scold the Illinois legislature for preventing citizens from being able to defend themselves on the mean streets of cities like Chicago, in the absence of an overriding justification which he concluded clearly was not present as a basis for the existing ban.

Preventing law-abiding citizens from possessing firearms to protect themselves from criminals as roam the streets of Chicago may satisfy a political agenda such as Emanuel’s. In reality, however, such measures draw attention away from the real causes of violent criminal activity; at the same time blunting the process of finding solutions to those problems -- gang activity, drug usage, mental health issues, and culture-fueled violence.

As Posner aptly stated, laws are not meant to be psychological safety blankets for politicians. If government is to limit a constitutionally-protected right in the name of public safety, overriding empirical -- not hypothetical -- evidence must be shown to justify that loss of liberty. Chicago’s violent crime speaks volumes to the ineffectiveness of gun control. As such, gun legislation that reduces the right to keep and bear arms is nothing more than a red herring.

At best, overzealous gun control adds unnecessary burdens to purchasing and owning firearms for law-abiding citizens. At its worst, as we see clearly in Chicago, gun control reduces law-abiding citizens to cold crime statistics. Hopefully Posner’s decision, which he stayed for 180 days, will stand and override the shibboleth of gun control that is the Holy Grail of liberal politicians from Chicago to New York and from Washington, DC to San Francisco.

Bob Barr

Bob Barr represented Georgia’s 7th district in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1995 -2003 and as U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia from 1986-1990.