When gun owners raise this particular argument, we’re often accused of trying to deflect attention away from whatever new restrictions are being floated by the gun control lobby and their political allies, which I’ve always found a little odd. In truth, the enforcement of any given law is at least as important as turning it into a law in the first place, but we rarely if ever hear anti-gun advocates talk about the potential penalties for violating their “commonsense gun reforms,” and they shy away completely from even obliquely recognizing the lack of enforcement when it comes to longstanding laws surrounding felons and firearms or the use of a firearm in the commission of a violent crime.
A recent case out of Chicago is a perfect example of why it’s absolutely critical to shine a light on how the justice system typically operates, and why efforts to ensure that there are consequences for violent crimes would do far more to benefit public safety than the imposition of laws like universal background checks or banning gun sales to adults under the age of 21.
In January, when prosecutors told Judge Stanley Sacks that a man who was awaiting trial for allegedly shooting his own son in the leg had violated the terms of electronic monitoring, the judge decided to simply remove the electronic monitoring altogether and let the man go home after posting an additional $2,000 bail deposit.
Last week police arrested that man after they saw him walking down an alley with a loaded gun in his hand, according to prosecutors.
As bad as that sounds, the details reported by website CWB Chicago are even worse. 41-year old Darrel Frazier was first charged with a gun-related crime in 2017 after allegedly shooting a gun into a car with people inside. Frazier was originally charged with a litany of offenses, including aggravated assault by discharging a firearm and possessing a defaced firearm, but he was able to plead down to a single count of unlawful use of a weapon by a felon and was sentenced to three years in prison.
Of course a three-year sentence doesn’t mean three years behind bars, so Frazier was already out of prison and on parole when he was arrested again in November of 2020 after he allegedly shot his stepson in the leg during an argument.
Prosecutors charged him with aggravated battery by discharging a firearm and aggravated domestic battery. Judge Arthur Willis ordered him held in lieu of $1 million and said he must go on electronic monitoring should he post the $100,000 deposit necessary to get out of jail.
But three months later, Judge Stanley Sacks slashed that $1 million bail to $50,000. Frazier went home on electronic monitoring and GPS by posting a $5,000 deposit, court records show.
In January, prosecutors told Sacks that Frazier was moving around without authorization while on electronic monitoring, according to Assistant State’s Attorney Loukas Kalliantasis. Sacks removed Frazier’s electronic monitoring altogether and told him to pay another $2,000 deposit to get out of jail.
Frazier paid up and went home.
Around 8:45 p.m. on May 27, cops on patrol in Austin saw Frazier walking down an alley with an “L-shaped object” in his hand, Kalliantasis said. As police approached Frazier, he wrapped the object in a hoodie and tossed it to the ground, then ran away, according to Kalliantasis.
Cops caught Frazier and allegedly found a loaded handgun in the discarded hoodie.
He’s now charged with two more felony gun counts, including aggravated unlawful use of a weapon by a felon.
You don’t have to be a gun owner or Second Amendment activist to see the problem here. Rather than address the problem of a defendant charged with a violent felony violating the terms of his release, a judge simply took away what little ability the state had to monitor the defendant at all.
This is not an anomaly. In fact, according to CWB Chicago this is at least the 52nd person “accused of killing or shooting — or trying to shoot or kill — someone in Chicago during 2020 while awaiting trial for a felony. The alleged crimes involve at least 64 victims, 33 of whom died.”
This isn’t just a Chicago problem either. In recent days I’ve covered multiple cases of federal prosecutors and judges going soft on straw buyers and gun traffickers, all while Democrats are trying to create new federal felony offenses for possessing a 20-round magazine or loaning a handgun to your neighbor who’s worried about an abusive ex showing up at her home. Even if I didn’t have serious concerns about the constitutionality of what’s being talked about on Capitol Hill, the idea that adding more gun laws to an already broken system is bonkers to me. We’re doing a terrible job of enforcing the laws that are currently on the books, and the last thing we need to be doing is putting more laws in place that turn legal gun owners into criminals with the stroke of a pen.