Back when I was young, ignorant and naïve, I supported a national handgun ban. It sounds good in theory; guns kill people, so if there are no more guns, violence drops sharply. This theory works perfectly in Mayor Richard M. Daley's dream cloud.
In practice, there are 250 million guns in the U.S. About one-third of American households are armed. No one proposes sending the National Guard to conduct house-to-house search-and-confiscate missions, so those legally-owned guns are here to stay. Local handgun bans prove fruitless as legal weapons in the next town are portable.
During a period of living in the city unarmed, defenseless and dependent upon public transit, I realized weapons neutralize the thugs' physical superiority. Inside one's home, a gun-owners' advantage is even more pronounced. A home invader, desperate as he is for valuables and cash, isn't interested in a gunfight he may lose.
Two final notes.
I have never seen gun-ban advocates suggest that police be disarmed. So they understand intuitively that to keep the citizenry safe, someone needs to pack heat. Since the police can only respond to a violent crime in progress, that someone might as well be us law-abiding citizens.
There were two recent incidents in which Chicago residents defended themselves with weapons they owned illegally. One, an 80-year-old African-American war veteran, shot an intruder who shot out a window to enter his home. The other, a 27-year-old resident of South Austin, shot someone fleeing police who broke into his home. In both cases, Chicago Police did not charge the men with possession of illegal firearms. Why not? Because a citation or arrest--for men using firearms to protect their homes--would create a media sensation and embarrass the Office of the Mayor.
So the secret is out. Chicagoans need not fear prosecution for using handguns in self-defense--which is the reason law-abiding citizens purchase them.