The story goes that after the last meeting of the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia on September 17, 1787 a woman asked Benjamin Franklin what kind of government the convention had given Americans. “A republic, if you can keep it,” Franklin replied.
In our Republic, it is not enough that we have a written Constitution with clearly delineated powers between the three branches of government. The Constitution is fading words on yellowed paper. It is the physical manifestation of ideas and ideals. If the men charged with honoring and upholding those ideals are not honest men of courage and character, if they are not willing to honor the Constitution in letter and in spirit, our noble democratic experiment cannot long survive. This the Founders understood. This our current crop of politicians have forgotten–if they every knew it.
That question of whether we can keep our republic has not yet been definitively answered, but the behavior of the Chicago City Council gives little hope. ABC News reports:
The Chicago City Council, forced by a federal judge to allow gun sales in the city, approved an ordinance Wednesday that dramatically limits where those stores can open and puts owners on alert that the city will be looking over their shoulders every time they sell a gun.
During their discussions, aldermen and Mayor Rahm Emanuel made it clear that the only reason they were voting to permit gun stores after decades of a ban was because a federal judge, following a 2010 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that invalidated the city’s handgun ban, ruled earlier this year that the ban on stores selling guns was unconstitutional.
‘I really wish the Supreme Court justices who opened up the floodgates on guns had to take the calls I get at 2 o’clock in the morning from police sergeants and lieutenants about shootings,’ Alderman Will Burns said before the 48-0 vote. ‘This is the best we can do and I’m holding my nose and voting for it.’
Notice the faulty reasoning. Chicago, murder capital of America, and the alderman’s solution is to make it difficult–practically impossible–for the law-abiding to protect themselves. Note also that without the court order, Burns would have done nothing to assist crime victims.
“Aldermen also listed some of the provisions — which will almost certainly trigger a legal challenge — including a requirement that all gun sales be videotaped, another that gun owners open their books for inspection by police, and restrictions on where the shops can go that prohibit them in 99.5 percent of the city by confining sales to specific areas and prohibiting stores within 500 feet of schools and parks.
Not surprisingly, a gun rights advocate agreed that the city that has for decades fought to keep guns out of the hands of its residents and faced repeated lawsuits over its gun laws had all but assured itself that it will face another one.
‘It’s actually an ordinance to prevent gun shops,’ said Richard Pearson, executive director of the Illinois State Rifle Association.
Emanuel disagreed, adding that the city’s law department examined the ordinance and determined that it is on solid legal ground. The city, Emanuel said, had written a ‘solid, tough and enforceable ordinance.’ And though he did not discuss the videotaping provision in particular, earlier he said he believes it is no different than the common practice of photographing transactions at ATMs.
Honest men of courage and character? They’ve written an ordinance that prohibits gun shops in 99.5% of the city, and Rahm Emanuel believes it’s on solid legal ground? He actually believes he’s following the law? He thinks this won’t provoke an expensive lawsuit that the city will lose?
The gun ordinance also addresses what police and others believe is a big reason for what they say is a flood of illegal guns into Chicago and why the city’s police officers seize more illegal guns than any police department in the United States: The sale of guns by so-called straw purchasers, who then transfer them to people who are not legally allowed to buy and possess firearms.
The ordinance, said Alderman James Balcer, ‘will now allow employees to be trained so they can identify straw purchasers.
Ah. Employees of the gun shops that will open in .5% of the city weren’t capable of identifying straw purchasers, which is a federal crime, before the law that made it virtually impossible for them to exist in the first place was written? Of course it must be remembered that before this particular law, gun shops were allowed in 0% of Chicago, so this is, mathematically at least, progress of a cynical sort.