You say the ironic thing about the selective enforcement of gun laws is it’s precisely the people in the communities that get cracked down on who may have the most justified concern for their personal safety. For them, oftentimes gun ownership is part of a terrible downward spiral: Unsafe communities make people seek out weapons for self-protection. Then they get caught up in the justice system on a possession charge. Meanwhile, the police arresting them have done little to actually make their neighborhoods safer.
If these are the communities where you see an uptick in violence, those seem to be the people who have a reason to carry. That’s not something that I do. I live on the South Side of Chicago. But it’s understandable, and I see it every day when I talk to our attorneys, that people are scared. They turn on the news every single day and they hear carjacking, robbery, murder, robbery, carjacking. And people are choosing to protect themselves.
We have this assumption that making things a felony disallows people from performing that act. And I just haven’t been convinced of that. At this point in Chicago, folks are not waiting for the government to tell them that they can carry. And I think too often we overestimate the power of the criminal justice system to solve problems or fix the things that we need. I think people are living under the assumption that because you’ve got this very complicated scheme for getting licensed, that means people aren’t going to carry. I think what it means is that people aren’t going to carry legally.
— Mary Harris in A Criminal Justice Reformer’s Case for Looser Gun Laws