An innocent girl, a volleyball player innocently sitting in a park with friends, was gunned down in gang crossfire in Chicago. Killed by mistake at age 15 – just for being in a public place in a dangerous city – the girl’s mourning family would have been alone in their grief, no more than a statistic to the rest of America, if it weren’t for the fact that she had performed as a majorette in the president’s inaugural celebration a week before.
So the story went national. Chicago’s 500-plus killings in 2012 alone, plus the countless thousands of attempted murders and violent assaults that accompanied them, are barely noticed by the press, but now the problem of Chicago violence has a face, the face of an innocent 15-year-old girl. The first lady of the United States announced that she would attend the funeral, then other Chicago-based members of the administration joined her delegation. Schools chief Arne Duncan and advisor Valerie Jarrett announced that they would accompany Michelle Obama in this demonstration of the administration’s concern.
One might think from such a presence that the administration was finally going to get serious about the problems of violent crime in our inner cities; that impression was certainly the administration’s intent. Sadly, however, such an impression would be mistaken. It was just a photo op, nothing more.
A president’s “plan”
To combat the “gun violence” committed by criminals, the American Left has long promoted the disarming of law-abiding citizens. They claim that guns are what cause killings, as if guns aimed themselves at innocent victims, then pulled their own triggers, then reloaded for next time, all by themselves, without the help or guidance of any human villain.
So the president follows in the footsteps of a long parade of grandstanding politicians who’ve preceded him – the James Brady types in the nonprofit world, the Bill Clinton types in government – to promulgate laws against firearms and their accoutrements.
Barack Obama and his cronies in the national and state capitols push for limits, claiming that such limits will solve all of our problems. The various bills under consideration would allow six rounds in a magazine but ban seven, or allow nine but ban ten… they would allow some bullets but ban others… they would allow a wooden stock but ban a polymer one… they would allow a gun that looks old-fashioned but ban one that looks modern... they would allow brown guns but ban black ones.
The range of proposals, and the utter ignorance of the arguments made by their advocates, all make a mockery of the very concept of a “deliberative legislative process” so long and proudly championed in American civics classes.
It is of course utterly unconstitutional to restrict the right of law-abiding citizens to keep and bear arms. In the Constitution itself, there is no provision for the federal government to do so, so no amendment was actually needed, but many in the Founding generation were nervous (apparently, rightly so), so they added a Bill of Rights to ensure that no distant future polity might misunderstand their meaning.
“The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” Period. The government has no legal ability to restrict the ownership of firearms by non-criminals. None. Even a unanimous vote by Congress, the signature of the president, and a blessing from the Supreme Court would not be sufficient to put the pretense of legitimacy to such an action. Only a Constitutional Amendment would allow it; and that would never happen.
But this president, and virtually his entire party in public office, fully supports such an illegal action anyway. They claim that it is necessary to end the violence. But is it?
Violent crimes in America are committed by a variety of people – individual robbers, rapists, and killers working alone, groups of organized robbers who plan their crimes or tyrannize an area as teams, old-fashioned organized crime mobs and the youth-oriented versions known as gangs.
These criminals steal their televisions and their sound systems; they steal their cars and their women. Everything else they have in life may be illegally obtained. Why on earth would they obey government rules to register their weapons, or give their right names for a background check, or obey a restriction on the number and kind of weapons they’re allowed to possess?
Only the law-abiding citizens could be hoped to obey such new laws, and the law-abiding citizens are not the problem. In fact, since the presence of firearms in the hands of the law-abiding citizenry is the cause of millions of criminals apprehended and crimes averted every year, any reduction in the number of firearms held by the law-abiding will necessarily cause a huge increase in violence, not a decrease.
Rather than foolishly focusing on ways to restrict the ability of the law-abiding to defend themselves and discourage the criminal element, the government should obviously be focusing on ways to reduce the number of practicing criminals. But are they?
Solutions and choices
It is well known that the vast majority of crimes are committed by repeat offenders, people whom the police, again and again, have already caught… and the system, again and again, has prosecuted and convicted, and then released, either after no jail time at all or after far too little. Are the administration and the Democratic Party proposing to set mandatory sentences at the national and state levels, to execute the killers and lock away the lesser – but still violent – thugs until they’re no longer a danger to society? Sadly, No.
Many of these criminals have been caught but not convicted, due to a generation of judicial errors that have swung the pendulum of justice to the side of the criminal. If a policeman makes the slightest error in the pursuit or investigation of a crime, whether in evidence collecting or interrogation or apprehension, the criminal goes free on a technicality acquittal. The Founding Fathers would certainly have intended for the arresting policeman to be disciplined for such an error, but would they have wanted to punish society by letting the guilty criminal go? Never! Are the administration and the Democratic Party proposing to end technicality acquittals, so that obviously guilty criminals are no longer released back into their neighborhoods to rob, rape, and kill again? Sadly, no.
Most – not all, but most – of these criminals are raised not by traditional families but by “the village.” They grow up in public housing; they eat and dress on debit cards called “public assistance,” and they attend dangerous government schools. They are raised in a welfare state, surrounded by communities all within the welfare state. They therefore gain little appreciation for the American work ethic, for the inalienable human rights to life, liberty, and property, so they feel no moral pull away from denying these rights to others. Are the administration and the Democratic Party proposing a sweeping new Welfare Reform effort, like the one so successful during the Clinton administration, to help move people out of the welfare world and into legitimate, honorable, American civilization? Sadly, No.
Many – not all, but most – of these criminals are raised in single parent “families” by mothers or grandmothers, without a responsible hard-working father figure in sight. They either don’t go to church at all, or they attend the so-called “black liberation theology” churches that preach class envy, ethnic hatred, every destructive form of bigotry – in a conscious effort to undermine civil society. Are the administration and the Democratic Party proposing welfare reforms to again encourage married parents? Will they advocate pro-business policies to bring manufacturing jobs back into our inner cities, so that good role models will again be abundant? Will they call out the race-baiters in their party and in their communities to either become responsible or get off the public stage? Sadly, No.
Many – not all, but many – of these criminals are members of the ethnic gangs that tyrannize our cities. They run the underground economies of drugs, sex, and stolen merchandise. The chop shops and meth labs, the bordellos and fence shops, these are their stomping grounds, and the government knows where they are, but often has political reasons for leaving them in place. Are the administration and the Democratic Party offering to join with Republicans in cracking down on these crimes, on ceasing the repulsive “negotiations” with crime gangs that sniveling, pandering city councils often support, and sweeping the cities at last with an all-out assault along the lines of Elliot Ness? And will they recognize that a 14-year-old recruited to kill is still a killer, and no longer fear using adult force against criminals who themselves use adult force regardless of age, since the gangs sometimes put guns in the hands of their youngest members specifically because it gets them advantageous treatment? Will they at least grant us honest statistics, and count the 16-year-old rapist-robber-killer who dies in a gunfight as a criminal thug rather than as a “child victim of gun violence,” thereby warping the debate? Sadly, No.
Places in which concealed carry and open carry – for law-abiding citizens – are affordable, simple, legal options are safer than places in which they are forbidden. In Chicago, the perfect example of gun control in America, every criminal knows that he is likely to be the only armed person on the street, in a store, in a restaurant, in an alley… unless his fellow gang members are with him, or members of a rival gang are nearby. Unless there’s a policeman nearby (no matter how many there may be, there can’t be enough for one to always be nearby), the only armed people are the felons and felons-to-be. Are the administration and the Democratic Party announcing a renunciation of their long-held devotion to the dangerous, destructive, fatal policy of gun control? Are they recognizing reality and acknowledging the statistical fact that a combination of concealed carry and open carry – by honest, law-abiding citizens – are a significant and effective discouragement to criminal activity of all kinds? Sadly, No.
Just more of the same
No, sadly, this unfortunately girl’s funeral was just another politicized moment in time, a photo op for liberal politicians, a chance for hand-wringing reporters to whine about violence for their misinformed readership.
It is indeed a shocking event, the kind that certainly ought to promote a national dialogue in favor of the radical changes needed by our nation. The solutions are clear: a reversal of the welfare state, encouragement of a return of manufacturing to our cities, an end to the class warfare rhetoric of urban pols, an end to the criminal-coddling culture that daily returns known monsters to the streets after a mere night in jail.
And one more solution is worth highlighting again: these killings are at their worst in places where the possession of firearms by law-abiding citizens is forbidden. Whether it’s a city like Chicago or a cinema like Aurora, Co, or a school like Sandy Hook, or a building like a Post Office, the one thing that our most violent areas have in common is that they have bans on the possession of guns by honorable, law-abiding citizens. There is a reason that a common nickname for the handgun is “the equalizer.” It gives an old man the equal strength of a young mugger; it makes a five foot, hundred pound woman equal to a six foot, two hundred pound rapist.
Texas is safe, Chicago is dangerous. Any rational, objective observer would want to make Chicago look like Texas.
But the proposal of the American Left is to make the whole country look like Chicago.
The Left doesn’t learn from history, from statistics, even from the awful deaths of their own friends and supporters. Their warped ideology is more valuable to them than human life.
As the nation watches Chicago, Detroit, Washington D.C., and so many other “gun-free” death zones, a new divide appears ever clearer in the American people: those who can process information, and those who cannot, even when the truth stares them right in the face.
Copyright 2013 John F. Di Leo
John F. Di Leo is a Chicago-based Customs broker and international trade lecturer. His columns appear regularly in Illinois Review.
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