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DePaul Law's gun violence program responds to President Obama’s Chicago visit

Today President Obama is home in Chicago, pressing Congress to act on his proposals to reduce gun violence. The president’s proposals come at a critical time for our nation. This is a watershed moment when political leaders might exercise courage to curtail the epidemic of gun violence.

At DePaul University College of Law, a Program on Gun Violence has been initiated by Professor Barry Kellman. This is the only such program at an American law school, and one of the very few law-based programs to focus on these issues. The mission of the DePaul Program on Gun Violence is to contribute to the understanding of the law of curtailing gun violence and thereby enable that law to be optimally effective. This mission is based on the recognition that these issues are complex with dimensions that go from international trafficking to local crime control. We strive to educate people about these issues (within and outside DePaul) and to contribute rigorous legal analysis to the public debate.

According to Professor Kellman, the president’s proposals are altogether consistent with the Second Amendment; in fact, the president’s proposals strengthen the Second Amendment’s express commitment to building the security of a free country. Certainly, the nation’s Founding Fathers understood that a democracy must have the right to decide how much lethal force private citizens can put to use. While everyone has a right to defend themselves, the Supreme Court has made clear that society has the right to regulate firearms for its security, and “dangerous and unusual” weapons, including machine guns and other military weapons, do not have Second Amendment protections.

Kellman went on to say that the gun industry depends on the fear of violence. If not for that fear, gun sales would be limited to hunters and sportsmen. Through its own circular logic, the violence that guns accelerate is the source of demands for more guns. Of course the profits of this industry are stratospheric, and industry’s suggestion that school teachers should be heavily armed is perfectly consistent with the idea that the response to the deadly use of guns should be more guns. In the end, says Kellman, guns do not cause violence, but guns make violence more immediate and entirely without recourse or protection. Guns do not make evil or the mental imbalance that leads to evil, but they enable evil to magnify its impact on us all, no matter how innocent. Each year, year after year, the joy and potential of too many people are taken forever by guns.

The DePaul Program on Gun Violence, established under the aegis of the International Weapons Control Center, is responsive to the president’s call that “We were sent here to make what difference we can, to secure this nation, expand opportunity, and uphold our ideas through hard, often frustrating, but absolutely necessary work of self-government.”

Professor Kellman is available to discuss these issues further at or 847-708-8765.