The real lesson we can learn from Illinois's gun control laws

Illinois is well known for its gun control policies. While there are pieces of the anti-gun puzzle they’re currently lacking–an assault weapon ban, for example–there are a lot of pieces in place to essentially gut the Second Amendment in the Land of Lincoln.

Yet an Illinois newspaper thinks its state’s gun control policies are a good model for the rest of the midwest.

Illinois’ gun control policies stand out in the Midwest like a rose in snow. While a majority of nearby states put little energy into prioritizing gun safety, Illinois currently maintains the sixth strictest gun control in the nation according to Everytown for Gun Safety Research and Policy.

Among these policies are background checks and restrictions on who is able to purchase a firearm and how that firearm may be sold or stored, as addressed in the Firearm Owners Identification Card Act. The Firearm Concealed Carry Act implements restrictions on how and where a gun may be carried in public.

Unfortunately, Illinois does not appear to reap the same benefits as states with similar levels of gun control, such as Connecticut and Maryland, which are fifth and seventh on Everytown’s rank of the nation’s strictest gun policies.

According to Everytown’s research, for every 100,000 deaths, Illinois sees 14.1 due to gun violence. Meanwhile, Maryland sees 13.5 and Connecticut only six on the same scale.

Now, this is fascinating, because the writer clearly did research in order to get the numbers, but then managed to miss what those numbers mean. For one thing, these are just gun deaths, not homicides. That means they’re including suicides in those numbers, despite there being plenty of suicides that don’t utilize a gun at all.

Moving on…

Illinois and Maryland are pretty close to one another with regard to the per capita “gun death” rate, all things considered, while Connecticut is quite different. Yet, as noted, all three have similar gun control laws. What gives?

Well, Illinois has Chicago and Maryland has Baltimore.

In contrast, Connecticut doesn’t really have an urban center that’s remotely similar in size.

But the writer provides an alternative explanation.

Why is this? According to Gifford’s Law Center, much of the blame can be placed on the weak gun restrictions of neighboring states and the high numbers of firearms trafficked into Illinois. A 2019 study by Penn Medicine backed this claim, finding that “65% of the guns recovered in the most restrictive states (of possession of firearms) originated from other states.”

According to Everytown, of the five states that border Illinois – Wisconsin, Indiana, Kentucky, Iowa and Missouri – not one requires even a permit to purchase a gun.

Sure, and Maryland shares a border with Virginia whereas Connecticut is surrounded by other anti-gun states.

The problem with that is that Connecticut is just a three-hour drive from New Hampshire, which is also a pretty gun-friendly state.

If the issue is funneling guns from neighboring states into gun-controlled areas, Connecticut should have the exact same issues. Yet they don’t.

While the author was clearly trying to prop up Illinois as an example for the rest of the midwest to follow, the truth is that they do no such thing. Instead, the show a glimpse of the fact that violent crime is a complex, poorly-understood phenomenon and that while Illinois has fully embraced it, it still hasn’t yielded the results proponents claim.

Illinois is an example to the rest of the Midwest, but an example that gun control won’t solve their problems.