Saturday night was just another warm spring night in Chicago, the city with some of the strictest laws banning guns in the nation. And this is just another Chicago headline typical of the morning after the violent night before.
At least 7 wounded in separate shootings
So violent that the city is still in mourning for the murder by gun of an off duty cop, recently returned from his second tour of duty in Iraq, in front of his parents' home. The young veteran, the young policeman, had gone to visit his parents to show them his new motorcycle. Upon leaving he was surrounded by two thugs, one who put a gun to his head, demanding the motorcycle. The father, a retired cop, brought out his legal gun, ultimately killing one murderer and seriously wounding the other. Two others in a getaway car sped away, dragging the body of the seriously wounded young policema for a short distance.
Although this could never in any way be a consolation to the grieving parents the father did kill one of his son's murderers; thanks to excellent medical care the other -- at this moment -- is still alive.
And da mare of Chicago, Richard J. Daley, still defends his gun ban, angrily mocking those who question his wisdom such as Mike Dumke of the Chicago Reader, a reporter who supports the gun ban.
Guns are one of the mayor's favorite soapbox topics-he regularly goes out of his way to point out that he despises gun manufacturers and "extremists" like the NRA. "It's really amazing how powerful they are," he said today, standing next to a table covered with handguns, rifles, and even a machine gun that police had seized. "They're bigger than the oil industry, bigger than the gas industry, bigger than Google, bigger than President Obama and the rest of them."
Uh, no they're not.
Daley also likes to highlight what he considers to be flagrant hypocrisy on the part of the defenders of gun rights. "Now you can't walk into the Supreme Court-you have to walk in the side way. They're going to barricade the doors or something now. I mean, they're barricading the doors but they're saying everyone else should have guns. That's the thing that bothers me in Washington. As you know in Washington all things are being barricaded, all federal buildings. But they're saying everybody else should be able to carry guns."
No mayor, not everybody.
But even supporters of tough gun regulations-myself included-have to admit that it's not clear how much they reduce violence. Despite having some of the most restrictive laws in the country, Chicago is a national leader in shootings and murders, and the mayor himself noted that "we've seen far too many instances in the last few weeks" of firearm violence, including the shooting that left a cop dead last night.
So I asked: since guns are readily available in Chicago even with a ban in place, do you really think it's been effective?
And da mare's well thought out reply?
"Oh!" Daley said. "It's been very effective!"
He grabbed a rifle, held it up, and looked right at me. He was chuckling but there was no smile.
"If I put this up your-ha!-your butt-ha ha!-you'll find out how effective this is!"
For a moment the room was very, very quiet. I took a good look at the weapon. It had a long bayonet. (Was it seized during the Civil War?)
"If I put a round up your-ha ha!" (snip)
Daley went on. "This gun saved many lives-it could save your life," he said-meaning, I think, that getting that gun off the street might have saved many lives, including mine.
And he went on some more. "We save all these guns that the police department seizes, you know how many lives we've saved? You don't realize it. First of all, they're taking these guns out of someone's hands. They save their own life and they save someone else's. You cannot count how many times this gun can be used. Thirty, forty times in shooting people and discharging a weapon. I think it's very important.
"Next will be hand grenades, right? We'll say that hand grenades are OK. I mean, how far can you go in regards to mass weapons? To me, any gun taken off saves thousands of lives in America. I really believe that, I don't care what people tell me. You have to thank the police officers for seizing all these weapons. We lead the country in seizing weapons. This is unbelievable."
I had to agree.
It is unbelievable. Just a few weeks ago Chicago conducted one of its periodic, no questions asked, we'll bribe er, reward you if you turn in an illegal gun extravaganzas. Cash in hand, unfit guns safely discarded, criminals and others easily purchased new and better weapons from their illegal, parallel network. Unbelievable? Believe it.
For those who didn't have guns, knives did the trick; several knifings which resulted in a few deaths also happened that warm spring Saturday night. Daley hasn't banned knives. Yet.
Guns and knives and cars and whatever else don't kill. People kill. With guns and knives and cars and whatever else.