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Truth Test: Does gun control not work?

Police tape marks off a Chicago street as officers investigate the scene of a fatal shooting on the city's South Side on Tuesday, June 15, 2021.

CHAMPAIGN In an exclusive interview with Illinois Public Media, Republican Regan Deering, the 13th congressional district candidate, made this claim: “I do think that unfortunately, a lot of the communities that are experiencing gun violence across the country do have very strict gun laws on the books.”

“Correlation is not causation,” Dr. John Jackson, a visiting professor at the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute, said in response to Deering’s statement.

Gun violence is afflicting communities across the country, and Jackson explained how a city with strict gun laws, like Chicago, cannot control the policies of neighboring areas.

“Look, Chicago can’t put a brick wall around it and keep the guns out…you know, it has really nothing to do with whether or not they’ve got strict gun laws, given how porous our municipal boundaries are,” Jackson said, referring to studies, which found in 2020 that less than half the guns recovered in Illinois were originally purchased in the state. 

Here are the facts: Chicago prohibits the sale, possession, and use of assault weapons. In Illinois, ghost guns, which do not have identification numbers are banned. And gun owners must carry a firearm owner ID card.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Mississippi has the highest gun death rate per 100,000 people, and the NRA notes that the state has no restrictions on purchasing or carrying guns or rifles.

In Illinois, under the Firearms Restraining Order Act (the state’s red flag law), police and/or family members can petition a judge to temporarily take guns from someone at risk to others or themselves.

“I don’t think red flag laws necessarily, as they read today and are trying to be passed in legislation, are a good idea. I think people need their due process rights. And that can be a slippery slope,” Deering commented.

For an emergency petition, a judge holds a hearing on the same or next day to evaluate if a person is “an immediate and present danger.”

The Violence Prevention Research Program at UC Davis Health found that in the U.S. for every 10 to 20 red flag orders that are issued, the total number of suicides is reduced by one.

Harrison Malkin is a reporter for Illinois Public Media. Follow him @HarrisonMalkin

Editor’s Note: On Thursday at 7 pm, Deering will face Democratic candidate Nikki Budzinski for a debate at IPM’s studios. You can watch live on WILL-TV, listen on WILL radio, or stream via Facebook Live, YouTube, or on our website.

Harrison Malkin

Harrison Malkin

Harrison Malkin is a politics reporter at Illinois Public Media. He's focusing on elections across the state, particularly the 13th and 15th congressional districts and the gubernatorial race. Malkin studied Politics and Communications at Ithaca College, where he was a nightly newscaster and reporter for WICB. From 2020 to 2021, he was a reporting fellow at the Center on Media, Crime, and Justice at John Jay College. You can send a tip, recommendation, or note to hmalkin@illinois.edu.

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