White wine and Volvo Chicago suburbs like Morton Grove and Oak Park bowed to the inevitable when the Supreme Court issued the McDonald decision and repealed their handgun bans, but that doesn’t mean gun ownership is any more popular with some of the locals.
Chicago residents now can own handguns, but are required to get range training. The Catch-22 is that Chicago has made it pretty much impossible to open a range in the city limits. As you might guess, this has encouraged savvy businessmen in the suburbs to build range facilities.
The reaction from local fussbudgets has been exactly what you would expect; a barrage of criticism that shooting ranges will bring gang members from the inner city into the pristine suburbs; children walking by will be lured into a life of crime by the presence of guns, etc.
Given several high-profile cases where gangsters have killed innocent bystanders, including children, rather than their criminal foes, I would suggest improving their aim could be a big step forward in public safety, not to mention a good way to ease prison overcrowding at a time when Illinois is closing several Downstate institutions. But we all know that element is not prone to spend a lot of time practicing.
Morton Grove passed its handgun ban 30 years ago. It was symbolism then and the opposition to shooting ranges is symbolism now, as a local activist told the Tribune:
“There are any number of different businesses they could have invited to come in to generate tax revenue, but a gun store and gun range I think definitely makes a philosophical statement about the village’s position on gun control,” said Marc Bermann, a Lincolnwood resident who works with at-risk youth. “Maybe this is an overreaction, but the fact that we’re legitimizing a business that has to do with weapons is contrary to a lot of family values and things we’re trying to achieve in society.”
We were fighting that 30 years ago, and it appears we’re still fighting it.