Gun control and Prohibition

Published Feb 14, 2013 at 04:00AM

As I read The New York Times article on Chicago’s woes with guns (Monica Davey, The Bulletin, Jan. 31), I was struck by a thought that this whole debate might be informed by a history lesson review of Prohibition in the United States.

Davey’s article suggests that some Chicagoans now maintain that a national ban on weapons would help Chicago’s problem with gun violence. Similar arguments must have been made to expand prohibition of alcohol as it progressed from towns to cities to states and finally to the 18th Amendment. The intent of Prohibition to improve “health and morals” was not measurable, but the rise of criminal control of alcohol production and sales certainly was measurable and was the clearly demonstrable result.

In Chicago, we have evidence that even the city-level banning of certain guns does not correlate to reduced gun violence. The article’s implication that Davey’s Gun Shop is somehow a key contributor to 20 percent of Chicago’s gun violence is completely spurious — and I hope no one buys into such a fallacious suggestion without a lot more evidence being brought forth.

I have to imagine that expanding Chicago-like controls across the nation would be similar to Prohibition: a vigorous black market in guns would rise just as bootlegging and its criminal gangs rose in Prohibition. Criminals would still have and use their guns — and when gun violence fails to abate, perhaps a real debate about how to prevent and reduce violence would have to finally begin.

Anne Graham

Redmond