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.
Further, the ordinance allows buyers to purchase no more than one gun every 30 days — a hindrance, supporters say, on straw purchasers who would prefer to buy several firearms at once. [skip]
But Emanuel, while not welcoming a lawsuit, suggested it was important to pass the toughest ordinance possible whether or not it prompted a legal challenge.
Important? Why? Certainly Chicago is a Democrat-run disaster, and Democrats generally hate the Second Amendment and anyone daring to exercise their rights under it–except criminals, of course. They tend to vote for Democrats. It probably shouldn’t be forgotten that even more than Democrat ideology, The Mayor of Chicago, ruler of the Democrat Political Machine that nurtured Barack Obama, absolutely hates the idea of anyone else having power, and armed citizens represent a loss of power by the Machine, hence a threat to the Machine.
The Sun-Times is more revealing of Emanuel–and the Council’s– intentions:
If it was up to me as the person who helped establish the Brady bill, the five-day waiting period and the assault weapons ban, I wouldn’t take this step,’ Mayor Rahm Emanuel said after the 48-to-0 vote.
“But given that we’re under court order, we decided we’d take the six months to come up with a way of designing an ordinance that meets the judge’s requirements, but also does not undermine public safety.
Ald. Pat O’Connor (40th), the mayor’s City Council floor leader, was even more direct.
‘We had a gun to our head,’ he said.
Ordered by a federal court to actually obey the law, to honor the Constitution, Chicago elected officials considered obeying the law akin to having “a gun to our head.” And what of the Brady bill, waiting periods, and the “assault weapon” ban? Experience has demonstrated conclusively that all are useless as crime-fighting measures, but useful in harassing and hampering the law-abiding. No wonder the Chicago Machine refuses to obey the law. But there is more:
Richard Pearson, executive director of the Illinois State Rifle Association, has accused Emanuel of making the ordinance so restrictive, it will ‘make sure there are no gun shops’ in Chicago.
‘The license is $3,800. Your business transactions are videotaped. The costs are so high, nobody can possibly make a living doing that, so no one is going to do it,’ Pearson said.
‘It’s a right to buy a firearm. If you pass a background check, you shouldn’t have to be videotaped. People don’t want their business transactions videotaped…. It’s just a bunch of restrictions designed to make sure no gun shop opens in Chicago.’
Emanuel is well aware of the city’s history of losing court challenges on gun laws and he obviously expects another lawsuit. But he called the ordinance ‘smart, tough and enforceable,’ adding, ‘I consider that good public safety, not punitive.
And what will videotaping firearm transactions accomplish? Everyone buying a gun must already submit to a federal background check and identity verification. Will having a video of them filling out the mandatory federal paperwork be useful in any way to the police? Of course not. In very few cases–virtually none–is knowing who purchased a firearm helpful to the police. This is why schemes such as microstamping or gun registration are equally useless if crime prevention or solution is the actual aim.
Take the case of a murder. Joe Badguy is found dead in a downtown alley. He has been shot twice in the chest at close range, and lo and behold, a small revolver is found nearby under a dumpster. Two rounds have been fired. A ballistic comparison of the bullets recovered from Joe’s body confirm that the revolver fired the bullets that killed him.
Great! So all we have to do is chase down the serial number and figure out who bought the gun and the crime is solved! We’ll even have video of the criminal that bought it! Right? Wrong.
In order to prosecute anyone, the police must be able to prove that they were not only the person holding the gun, but that they were the person that actually fired the bullets into poor Joe. But that should be easy. Whoever bought the gun was the shooter; it’s his gun. Not quite.
With all due diligence, the police chase down every lead and discover that the gun was bought by Thomas P. Citizen of 1934 Bland Avenue six years ago. The rush to Citizen’s home and confront him, telling him they found his gun.
“Great,” replies Citizen. “Where’d you find it? It was stolen in a burglary years ago. Did you get the guy that stole it?”
Uh-oh. Sure enough, the police have a burglary report from four years ago, and the revolver was part of the property listed as stolen.
Or citizen put the gun in a drawer years ago and doesn’t realize it was stolen. Or it was lost when he moved, or he sold it to some guy in the neighborhood years ago who sold it to another guy, who sold it to a friend of a guy he knew…there are any one of many issues that would leave such a crime unsolved, even in the highly unlikely event that a gun were recovered–they virtually never are.
Just for the sake of argument, let’s say that the original purchaser of the gun was stupid enough to use it to shoot poor Joe and even more stupidly left it near Joe’s body. When the police run that gun down by the federal paperwork, of what value will the videotape be when compared to the purchaser’s handwriting, signature, and the verification of his photo ID present on the federal form? None. Unless the guy confesses, the best the police have is circumstantial evidence proving that the guy bought the gun at some time in the past and may have still owned it on the day Joe was shot. Reality isn’t like the CSI shows.
Unfortunately, reality is like the Chicago City Council and its mayor, and the citizens of Chicago are less safe as a result of their political choices. But what about criminals? They’ll always have guns. They don’t obey the law. They’re criminals.
Mike’s Home blog is Stately McDaniel Manor.