Lawsuit: Does lax enforcement of gun laws violate civil rights?

Image by Sam Howzit from Openverse

One of the most central tenets of the Second Amendment advocate crowd is that gun laws violate our basic civil liberties. They restrict our ability to keep and bear arms, a right the Second Amendment explicitly says “shall not be infringed.”


However, there are a lot of places where the majority of the people don’t think that way. They want those rights restricted and they vote for politicians who will pass laws doing just that.

Yet at the Chicago Tribune, the editorial board asks whether or not failing to enforce those gun laws is a violation of people’s civil liberties.

As Illinois Democrats continue to seek a ban on assault weapons and large-capacity magazines after the Highland Park massacre on July 4, critics of gun safety laws voice a familiar rebuttal:

Why pass new gun laws, opponents argue, when so many existing laws aren’t being enforced?

That’s a good question, but it dodges another, yet more obvious question: Why aren’t the existing laws being enforced?

That’s the question properly raised in a lawsuit filed by parents, including Shanice Mathews, a West Side mother of four. She’s the named plaintiff in Mathews v. State of Illinois, a suit filed by her and other parents on behalf of their children and others in a proposed class of Black children who the parents say have been traumatized by living in neighborhoods plagued by high gun violence.


Well, that’s it. That’s the dumbest thing I’m likely to hear today.

Now, understand, there are profound problems with how Illinois uses its FOID system. Law-abiding citizens are treated like criminals while criminals never face the possibility that their lack of FOID will come back to bite them in the posterior. Bad guys can get guns without an issue and good guys have plenty of issues trying to get one lawfully.

But while we can most definitely debate whether or not the enforcement or lack thereof is the problem, the government’s failure to act against another isn’t a violation of your civil rights.

Especially when it’s the seeming refusal to enforce laws that are in and of themselves likely violations of people’s civil liberties.

We also need to remember that the courts have found repeatedly that the government has no obligation to defend anyone, especially from such a nebulous concept as “trauma” as the lawsuit tries to claim. Any law on the books not properly enforced is something to take up with elected officials, not the courts. If the murder of children by a father acting against a restraining order that authorities failed to enforce, as in Gonzalez v. Castle Rock, isn’t something the government can be held responsible for, then this is a failed cause.


As it should be.

If only these folks recognized that the government cannot and will not be able to stop bad people from having guns and instead take steps to arm themselves lawfully, so they can counter these bad people.

But no, poor enforcement of gun laws isn’t the problem, and I doubt this lawsuit will accomplish what they’re hoping.

I will give them credit, though. The lawsuit doesn’t ask for monetary damages, only enforcement of laws, so I’ll give them credit for this not being a money grab, at least.

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