There are three major issues facing Illinois gun rights advocates: local laws restricting gun ownership, the state laws limiting the right to bear arms to those who can afford it, and the multiple states not recognizing the Constitutional right of an entire nation’s people to bear arms.
In 2017, there were 3,561 people shot with 624 being killed, in Chicago. The media cover this atrocity with vim and vigor, yet they hardly report on how the citizens of the Windy City have to fight for the city to respect their Constitutional right.
This came to a head a day after the landmark Heller v. District of Columbia Supreme Court case. Otis McDonald, a resident of Chicago’s south side, sued the city of Chicago and neighboring Oak Park for the cities’ laws prohibiting the ownership of most handguns. Cornell Law School explains that the laws “accomplish[ed] a virtual ban on handguns by prohibiting the possession of unregistered firearms. Chicago law prohibit[ed] the registration of most handguns. Similarly, Oak Park law prohibit[ed] the possession of handguns. In his lawsuits, McDonald argued that the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms should apply to states and municipalities through either the Due Process Clause or the Privileges and Immunities Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.”
After two years of being heard in the state and federal courts, the plaintiff was finally awarded a certiorari by the United States Supreme Court. Otis McDonald emerged victorious and the Oak Park and Chicago laws were struck down as they were ruled as violating the Privileges and Immunities Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment as well as the Due Process Clause. According to Cornell Law School, “In so arguing, McDonald examines the circumstances surrounding the adoption of the Fourteenth Amendment following the Civil War. In particular, McDonald focuses on the systematic oppression of freed blacks in the South following the Civil War, which led to frequent deprivation of their right to keep and bear arms.”
Still, the impoverished people living in the south side of Chicago face a bigger problem: can they carry their now legal firearm on their person if they are outside of their home? Before 2013, they couldn’t. As noted by Geoff Ziezulewicz of the Chicago Tribune, “the 2013 passage of a concealed carry law in Illinois — the last state in the nation to approve one — has led to a relatively small yet recurring dynamic in Chicago shootings: the lawful gunman.” Even though this was a victory for gun rights advocacy in Illinois, the financial burden of such a program limits those who can utilize it. According to the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action, “to qualify for a license to conceal carry, an Illinois resident must: Pay a $150 fee; be subjected to fingerprinting for an additional fee in order to avoid delayed processing of one’s application; undergo 16 hours of training (which includes a “live fire” component). Undergo 16 hours of training (which includes a “live fire” component).” These training courses cost as much as $200, with the added $150 fee, the $10.00 fee for the Firearm Owner Identification Card, and $50 for the fingerprinting process. All of these costs mean that you’re paying nearly as much for government bureaucracy as you are for the firearm itself.
If it’s a financial burden for someone living in the suburbs or rural parts of Illinois where the taxes are already high, imagine what it’s like in Cook county and Chicago, where the local taxes dwarf the state taxes. If people are against voter identification that costs $10, I imagine they’d be livid about this financial discrimination. Thus far I haven’t heard a word from any leftist college professors or administrators.
What if someone from out of the state comes in and their carrying a concealed weapon (CCW) license isn’t recognized by the Illinois government? Luckily for them, they still get coaxed out of their money because they can buy an Illinois recognized CCW for a mere $300, if their home state’s laws are “substantially similar” to those of Illinois. Illinois’ CCW license, which is arguably the most stringent in the nation, is only recognized by 27 other states. Currently, there is a bill in the Senate that would require all states to recognize a citizen’s CCW license, regardless of where the individual is from. Known as H.R. 38 or the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017, the bill passed the House of Representatives with a 231-198 vote. If it succeeds in the Senate, then there is truly a new day on the horizon for Second Amendment advocates.
Illinois and its ilk are a nightmare for gun enthusiasts. Local laws have historically deterred what would otherwise be legal gun ownership. State laws and fees discourage low income people, who are often the most susceptible to gun violence, from purchasing and carrying a firearm. Gun owners can’t go into a state without worrying about possible legal ramifications since the right to bear arms can be infringed upon when you cross the state border. But with hard work, education, and advocacy, these Constitutional nightmares can become havens for those who wish to utilize their right to bear arms.
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