Christmas came early for law-abiding gun owners. Last Tuesday, the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals struck down Illinois’ ban on carrying concealed weapons, the last remaining such ban in the country. The landmark decision gave state lawmakers six months to come up with a version of the law that legalizes concealed carry.
In contrast, one thousand miles from the Illinois state capitol, in a rare Sunday night address from Newtown, Connecticut, which preempted even the usually sacrosanct NFL, Barack Obama telegraphed — without clearly saying so — that he will create political opportunity out of tragedy by pushing for more anti-gun measures. His effort is aimed at preventing more tragedies like the one which took 26 lives at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Included among the dead were 20 young children.
The Seventh Circuit decision in Michael Moore, et al. v. Lisa Madigan, authored by Justice Richard Posner just three days before the Newtown tragedy, stated:
[Illinois] had to provide us with more than merely a rational basis for believing that its uniquely sweeping ban is justified by an increase in public safety. It has failed to meet this burden.
Before the ink was even dry on this decision, however, federal agents were searching dozens of gun stores and shooting ranges in Connecticut to determine why the mother of the Newtown shooter owned and provided access to weapons at her home, including a Bushmaster .223 rifle and two handguns. The killer murdered Nancy Lanza at home before turning his sights on the children at Sandy Hook.
In the aftermath of this senseless tragedy and the actions of a man representing evil incarnate, we are at risk of once again restricting the liberties of law-abiding citizens in the usual political rush to do “something” to prevent events that simply cannot be prevented by merely restricting gun ownership.
Connecticut already has some of the toughest restrictions on gun ownership in the country. In 2011, Connecticut was ranked the fifth-toughest state by the pro-gun control Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.
Gun-control advocates are pointing to the gun-control experiment in Australia as ammunition for even tougher gun laws here in America. On April 28, 1996, a gunman opened fire on tourists at a seaside Tasmanian resort, killing 35 and injuring 23 more. Twelve days later, led by conservative Prime Minister John Howard, Australia enacted expansive new gun controls which banned semiautomatic rifles and shotguns and included a huge buyback of 640,381 personal firearms owned by law-abiding Australians — about one-fifth of all firearms in the country. The new laws also required that all weapons be individually registered to their owners and — most controversially — that prospective purchasers of guns present a “genuine reason” for needing the gun at the time of purchase. Self-defense was legislated as an insufficient reason.