You may recall that an 80-year-old Chicago man recently shot and killed a home invader with an illegal handgun. No surprise there. The handgun being illegal, I mean. (Shooting someone is an inherently challenging business.) Thanks to the Windy City’s handgun ban, the octogenarian had to buy his self-defense weapon on the street. After the shooting, Chicago police declined to prosecute the resident hailed as a hero by friends, neighbors, acquaintances and tens of thousands of Chi-town’s crime-plagued urban dwellers. When asked whether the Korean War vet would face prosecution, Mayor Daley relied on the old Three Stooges routine: Duck, Dodge and Hide. “Guns is not the answer to the problems that we see in a home, in the streets of America. It’s as simple as that.” Bad guys, gun, self-protection. That’s pretty simple too. At least one other Chicago man figured it out, and it looks like he’s going to go scott-free as well. On at least one level, that’s a bad thing. Allow me to explain . . .

First the facts, from The Chicago Tribune:

A drug suspect fleeing Chicago police chose the wrong home to break into Thursday on the West Side. A resident inside with a handgun wounded the intruder, authorities said.

While the wounded suspect was hospitalized and later charged, police declined to seek criminal charges against the 27-year-old South Austin resident with the gun, despite the city’s decades-old handgun ban.

It was the second time in a week that police didn’t seek charges against a city resident apparently using a gun in self defense. The man in Thursday’s shooting had a valid firearm owner’s identification card, but also a misdemeanor conviction for unlawful use of a weapon.

So as long as a Chicago resident possessing an illegal gun doesn’t get caught with the weapon until after they use it for self-defense, they’re good to stow. Does anyone else have a problem with this?

Gun control advocates take note: Chicago has now become the worst of both worlds. Criminals are using illegal guns and law-abiding citizens are using illegal guns. The most obvious corollary: a healthy market for illegal guns. Which leads to more gun crime, in terms of getting, having and using.

While there are some in the pro-gun world who would do away with all governmental oversight of gun ownership, the vast majority of Americans favor “sensible” gun laws. Clearly, this ain’t it. Because handguns are banned in Chicago, law-abiding citizens who want a firearm for self-defense are off the radar. No registration. No criminal background check. No safety training. Nada.

At the same time, Chicago’s handgun ban is criminalizing non-criminals. It’s the same process that happened during Prohibition. Then, as now, criminalizing a popular activity put money in the hands of the “real” criminals supplying the contraband, increasing crime. Then, as now, an unpopular law degraded the public’s respect for the law.

That’s no small point. The public’s relationship with the police is inherently fraught. That’s doubly true when it comes to low-income neighborhoods plagued by violent crime. If the guys with the guns can’t get it done, even the least-educated members of the community want to know why they can’t have a gun to do it themselves. One rule for them. One rule for us. “It’s for your own safety and protection” just doesn’t cut it when gangs and other criminals threaten your life, steal your property and lower you overall quality of life.

As we saw when Mayor Daley threatened to sodomize a reporter with a rifle, the man in charge of the city is a bully. Like most bullies, he’s a coward. Rather than face the fact that his anti-gun policy is ineffective and, thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court, doomed; rather than admit that the time has come for a rethink on gun control, he seeks to maintain the status quo. At the expense of those he is sworn to serve and defend.

The end of Chicago’s handgun ban can’t come soon enough.

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