Illinois Gang Members Get Slap on the Wrists for Drive-By Shooting

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While anti-gun politicians in Illinois are going after lawful gun owners' "large capacity" magazines, so-called assault weapons, and even Glock handguns, violent offenders are swiftly being returned to the streets after arrests and prosecutions thanks to the Democrats' criminal justice "reforms" in recent years. 


Take the cases of Mishawn A. Swanson and Qwantavis O. Bradford, two 20-year-old gang members in Decatur, Illinois who were recently offered a plea deal from prosecutors that will keep both men out of prison for their role in a drive-by shooting that happened last September. 

Mishawn Swanson had denied charges of the aggravated and reckless discharge of a gun, along with further counts of possession of a firearm by a gang member and possession of a gun by a felon.

The defendant was due to face a bench trial March 21 but changed his mind and took a plea deal when he appeared before Presiding Judge Thomas Griffith in Macon County Circuit Court on March 20.

He was given the probation sentence after admitting the aggravated unlawful use of a weapon and the other charges were dismissed. A check of his record shows he had only recently been released from prison at the time of the shooting after serving 18 months on a November 2022 conviction for the aggravated unlawful use of a weapon.

While no one was injured in the shooting, a local school was placed on lockdown for several hours after the shots were fired. This was a pretty serious offense, and Swanson could have faced up to 14 years in prison just on the felon in possession charge, but instead he walked away on probation thanks to the State Attorney's decision to offer him a deal. Bradford was facing the same laundry list of charges and was offered an identical deal, according ot the Herald-Review newspaper. 


Now, I'd love to think that probation will keep both of these guys on the straight and narrow path, but I'm not delusional. The state is doling out daily reminders to criminal offenders that they can expect the kid-glove treatment no matter how many other crimes they might be accused of committing. 

19-year-old Eric Smith was recently charged with two armed carjackings in the Chicago area, and while a judge decided to keep him behind bars for the time being that decision has been the exception, not the rule, for the teen in his past experiences in the criminal justice system. Smith had a GPS monitor on his ankle when he allegedly committed the carjackings after an earlier arrest for unlawful use of a weapon, and had several cases pending in the court system at the time of his most recent arrest. 

[Judge Maryam Ahmad] explained that Smith was already on pretrial release for three separate cases, including a juvenile stolen vehicle case for which he is serving probation and the gun and vehicular trespassing charge he picked up in January. Ahmad noted that both carjackings he is accused of participating in occurred during the overnight hours when Smith was supposed to be inside his home.

Court records show Smith was charged three times last year with criminal trespass to vehicles, a charge filed when someone is accused of being inside a car without permission. A case filed on January 12, 2023, was dropped by prosecutors eight days later. A case filed on February 6, 2023, was dropped by prosecutors three weeks later. A case filed on October 17 was dropped by prosecutors on November 20.


I'm not sure who's worse at their jobs; Smith, who keeps getting arrested for guns and stolen vehicles, or the Cook County prosecutors who've repeatedly dropped the cases against him after an arrest has been made. 

Illinois has a crime problem, and lawful gun owners aren't to blame. Later this month thousands of Second Amendment advocates will descend on Springfield for the annual Illinois Gun Owners Lobby Day to remind lawmakers of that inconvenient truth and demand their 2A rights be respected. I doubt many upstate Democrats will listen to what these gun owners have to say, but their continued criminalization of the right to keep and bear arms is only exacerbating the problem; emboldening violent criminals while depriving responsible gun owners of a fundamental civil right. 

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