By its consideration of the subject of gun death, injury and disability, and the less quantifiable mental health toll of stress from and fear of gun violence, the Oak Park Health Department appropriately acknowledges that gun violence is, in fact, as much of a public health issue as any other epidemic, exacting the same costs and burdens on the health care system. It cannot be said that because an effective solution is difficult, we are relieved of the responsibility to exact one.
According to the OLR Research Report summary of the McDonald case, the Supreme Court found that “the 2nd Amendment only protects a right to possess a firearm in the home for lawful uses such as self-defense. It stressed that some firearm regulation is constitutionally permissible and the 2nd Amendment right to possess firearms is not unlimited. It does not guarantee a right to possess any firearm, anywhere, and for any purpose.”
It is inconceivable that there is not the legal talent and constitutional scholarship available to the Oak Park government to write legislation that both reasonably and constitutionally regulates firearm ownership and that would not subject the community to onerous litigation.
It is also worth considering that the striking down of the total gun ban was a 5-4 decision and that the Court changes its membership and its decisions. It’s possible that Oak Park was just ahead of its time in its wish to eliminate guns and their attendant mayhem.
At present, there must be a balance of the rights of firearm ownership and the risks that the very presence of firearms imposes on the community. Certainly Oak Park citizens, particularly children, deserve our best effort in mitigating this hazard.
As far as the impact of gun ownership on crime prevention, I suspect that our law enforcement professionals are alarmed by the prospect of even the most well-meaning assistance of armed amateurs in law enforcement in Oak Park. I believe this possibility is a more reasonable concern than the police interpreting the statute as meaning they need not protect individuals and enforce the law.
But, as advised by the Jan. 25 Viewpoints letter on the firearm ordinance [Evaluating the existing firearm ordinance], I have asked myself the implications of the fact that the police have “no legal obligation for protecting an individual, only society in general.” My conclusion is not that it is “every man for himself” in these circumstances.
In the best interest of my neighbors, delivery people, innocent passersby, children on their way to school or playing in front, and friends and family who visit, I will rely on the police, nonetheless, to prevent crime and protect the citizenry. I hope that eschewing gun ownership is the decision of many but for those who feel they must arm for their own security, reasonable restrictions should be applied.
I’m a person who wishes that all children but especially Oak Park children will always be able to play outside, never be awakened in the night by gunfire, and never have to sleep in bathtubs to avoid being shot.
Sandra Shimon is an Oak Park resident.