While yesterday’s ruling does not immediately override Chicago’s law, it does call on a lower federal court to reconsider its ruling. As that lower court deliberates I have no doubt that their reconsideration will result in overturning what those of us in Chicago consider to be a reasonable step to help stem the unprecedented wave of gun violence that, sadly, holds the city I love in its grip.
Simply put, yesterday’s decision was a victory for four Chicago-area residents, two gun rights groups and the powerful National Rifle Association. The losers were the people of the City of Chicago who, once the lower court rules, will temporarily have to go without a gun law on the books that even if properly enforced would only have a modest impact on the obscene level of gun violence that plagues our city.
Yesterday, only hours after the Supreme Court’s ruling, I spoke out before the Chicago press corps. In part, I issued a legal call to arms by local and national organizations to help my city and others craft gun laws that would pass constitutional muster while making it difficult for those who seek to do harm to others to do so unchecked by the legal system.
I also renewed my call for a common sense gun identification law, H.R. 45, the Blair Holt Firearm Licensing and Record of Sale Act of 2009. With all the things that we could do to stop the flow of guns and the carnage these instruments wreak in communities across this nation, this bill seeks to simply register every firearm —that’s right, register, NOT confiscate. The Internet is awash with the wildly inaccurate rants of NRA leaders who obscenely continue to mislead their followers by using scare tactics to build its coffers by suggesting that this legislation is aimed at confiscating every firearm in America.
Blair’s bill is named in honor of a valiant young Chicago teenager who put his body in the path of a shooter to protect the life of his friend. They were part of a group of children riding home on a school bus. This valiant young man, the son of a Chicago firefighter and a school teacher, gave his life to protect a friend, but he shouldn’t have had to. He and other schoolchildren should not have to worry about having the safety of their school buses violated by gun-wielding assailants.
This nation must find a way to allow local lawmakers to protect their citizens by shining a legal spotlight on the parents or legal guardians of the young people who prey upon their peers and others with loaded weapons. We are taking a look at the gun control laws in New York City, where the leadership has in place certain restrictions on who can actually have guns.
I agree with the sentiments expressed by a group of justices who, led by a dissenting opinion written by Justice Stephen Breyer, said that “Firearms cause well over 60,000 deaths and injuries in the United States each year. Those who live in urban areas, police officers, women, and children, all may be particularly at risk. And gun regulation may save their lives.” While Justice Breyer and the justices who joined him in his dissent did not cite this as the only reason for their dissenting view, they rightly acknowledged through this and related arguments that local governments have a legal and responsible role to play in determining what works best in their communities.
I wholeheartedly agree with this dissent.
No matter the ultimate solution to this problem or how long it takes to get there, I am determined to see this through. I refuse to live in a culture that has a crude love affair with the gun to the detriment of vulnerable human beings. I encourage other like-minded men and women of good will to join me in a constructive endeavor to find a legal solution that will not be upended by judicial extremists on the U.S. Supreme Court.