Republicans this week have been quick to shush Democrats pushing for gun control after the latest mass shooting in Las Vegas, cynically arguing the opposition is politicizing a tragedy. In a White House press conference, Sarah Huckabee Sanders repeated a favorite talking point of Trump’s: “I think if you look to Chicago, where you had over 4,000 victims of gun-related crimes last year, they have the strictest gun laws in the country. That certainly hasn’t helped there.”
Trump made a similar claim about Chicago’s guns during the 2016 debates, and even before he entered the presidential race. He was wrong then, and he’s wrong now. As Politifact reveals, Trump and Sanders both cite outdated laws. While it’s true that Chicago’s murder rate is the highest in the nation, everything else about this claim is totally unfounded. Here’s why.
1. It’s easy to carry a gun around in Illinois.
In 2013, the state voted to legalize concealed weapons. So no, Illinois is definitely not the hardest state in the nation to carry a gun around. Not compared to the eight states that are much stricter on concealed weapons.
2. It is actually legal to carry a gun in Chicago.
As Politifact explains, for 30 years, Chicago did indeed ban concealed weapons, which might have given the Trump camp the false idea that the city is hard on guns. But for the past five years, Chicagoans have been free to carry concealed weapons. In 2012, after some back and forth in the courts, Politifact writes, “the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals struck down the Illinois concealed carry ban as unconstitutional and the state soon after became the last in the nation to approve concealed carry.”
3. Several other major cities with even stricter gun laws are lowering their murder rates.
New York and Los Angeles, two such cities, each had about half as many homicides as Chicago in 2016.
4. The point is moot if guns are legal in other surrounding states.
It doesn’t really matter how strict Chicago’s gun laws are: 60 percent of its firearms came from out of state, largely from Indiana where it’s much easier to obtain a gun, as a Trace report shows.
There still are no gun stores in the city limits and background check loopholes have been regulated, so it’s clear to many that Chicago’s guns are coming from out of state. The problem, as the Chicago Tribune’s Dahleen Glanton puts it, “is Chicago being surrounded by red states that have completely surrendered to the pro-gun lobby.”