Chicago Gun Laws and its effect on the Criminal Justice System - Research Paper Example

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Given the propensity for firearm-related crime in the city of Chicago, it is not much of a surprise that the city has a reputation for some of the most stringent gun control policies in the nation. More so than most other municipalities, the governing body of Chicago restricts the possession and use of firearms so that the supply to individuals may be squeezed in an effort to save lives…
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Chicago Gun Laws and its effect on the Criminal Justice System
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Download file to see previous pages In fact, perhaps Chicago is a case study in which we see quite clearly that strict gun controls harm the public rather than protect it, by removing legitimate access to firearms and leaving the illegal arms trade to those who have less legitimate purposes for those guns. The legal climate of Chicago’s gun control policies is complex and confusing to most who try to follow it, especially with the constitutional challenges even new laws are facing. A detailed study of these laws, and their respective effects on the criminal justice system, should provide a useful perspective on whether their existence is warranted given Chicago’s crime rates. Chicago’s reputation for strict gun control laws started in the 1980s when the city passed, along with Washington D.C., tighter restrictions on who can legally acquire and use firearms within the city limits. However, despite these laws being in place in both Washington D.C. and Chicago, neither city enjoyed a reduced crime rate (Levitt 174). Although Chicago never received a careful analysis at this time, it was known that Chicago lagged behind the nationwide homicide decline during the 1990s. This had led those familiar with the Chicago legal situation to suggest that policies raising the cost of using guns as opposed to targeting ownership is the most effective strategy for reducing gun-related crime. Although Chicago’s policies against guns were well known even in the 1970s, some authors have remarked that enforcement of those laws is the weak link connecting gun control laws to reduced crime (Bendis and Balkin). Because gun laws vary by state to state and, in some cases, from city to city, the best strategy for understanding the impact of Chicago’s gun control laws is to examine those laws in the context of state laws related to guns. In Illinois, firearms are not required to be registered nor are carry permits issued. However, individuals need a state permit to purchase a firearm and an owner license is issued to every firearm owner. Part of this process is the Firearm Owner’s Identification (or FOID) card, which owners acquire from the Illinois state police (Illinois General Assembly). An individual must present a valid FOID card whenever he or she attempts to purchase firearms or ammunition. This allows the state to monitor the purchasing of firearms (1) to keep dangerous weapons out of the hands of dangerous people and (2) to assist in investigations in gun-related crime. Additionally, the use of FOID cards screens out and prevents individuals who have been convicted of a felony from acquiring firearms from a licensed vendor. The FOID card is difficult to acquire for individuals under 21 years (Illinois General Assembly). As the most populated and crime-ridden city in Illinois, Chicago has in place its own level of restrictions on gun ownership. For instance, the municipality has an ordinance in place that requires all firearm owners not only to have possession of a FOID card, but also that firearms are registered with the Chicago Police Department, in addition to the Illinois State Police. This policy did not include handguns up until June 2010, when new registrations of pistols were unfrozen by law after thirty years (AP). The effect of not allowing handguns was negative in the view of many city officials, who began to recognize the need for conceal-and-carry ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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