By now you may have heard that a federal judge has overturned yet another Chicago gun ban, requiring Mayor Rahm Emanuel to allow gun shops to open in the next six months. While this may seem like common sense and good news to defenders of the Second Amendment, not everyone was happy with it. One such pundit is a guy who I somehow wind up reading nearly every week on one topic or another, LZ Granderson of ESPN and CNN, among other venues. While I rarely, if ever, agree with him, he does frequently at least make the effort to acknowledge that other points of view exist.
Following the judge’s decision, LZ launched into his own analysis of what he clearly feels is a “complicated” issue. He opens with a typical, tragic story of people being gunned down in the Windy City and then gets to the meat of the issue.
Of the 1,375 guns used in crimes between 2008 to 2012, one in five was legally purchased from one shop about 20 miles outside of the city. Also, a Chicago Police Department report found that 30% of the 17,230 guns recovered between January 1, 2008, and March 31, 2012, were bought in Cook County, where Chicago is located. Many more were bought elsewhere in Illinois. And nearly 60% of those guns were bought outside Illinois, in states with weaker gun laws, such as Indiana and Mississippi.
The guns aren’t always legally purchased by individuals with clean records and then illegally sold to criminals. Sometimes the gun shops are burglarized. In 2012 thieves broke into a store in a northwest suburb using a sledgehammer and took 200 guns. That year, 501 people were shot to death in Chicago.
It is disingenuous for gun rights advocates to dismiss the effectiveness of a city’s gun ban without acknowledging that guns are coming into the city from other areas, including the suburbs, making it easy for criminals to game the system. But the onus is still on pro gun-control politicians — like Emanuel, like San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, like New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo — to make an airtight case against what many see as infringement on the Second Amendment.
And fair or not, people being shot and killed in cities with tough gun laws on the books does not help their case.
In a way, I’d love to get on the phone and interview LZ about this column because I’m genuinely confused. It clearly seems to be an opus in favor of allowing Chicago to ban gun shops, but as he makes his case, Granderson seems to shoot down each and every one of his own arguments as he goes. (And for what it’s worth, this seems to be a common theme among those who attempt to argue in favor of gun bans.)
He points out that one in five of guns found to be used in the commission of crimes were all bought at one gun shop outside the city. But in nearly the same breath he notes that more than half of the guns (60%) came from outside the state. So precisely what is the rationale being provided to ban gun shops in Chicago if criminals will simply have them brought in from elsewhere? Once again we see a law which proves essentially useless in deterring criminals and only serves to prevent – or at least make it more difficult for – law abiding gun owners to make a purchase. And those aren’t the people you’re ostensibly trying to stop.
He also makes the argument that apparently the gun shops themselves are dangerous because sometimes they are robbed by criminals. In fact, he closes his argument by pointing out that the Mayor may have to “endanger” even more people by moving the gun shops to more affluent, lower crime areas of Chicago.
To complicate matters, now Emanuel — the man known as “Mayor 1%” for his tendency to spend more time with deep pocket types than community organizers — is going to have to survey the city’s 77 communities and decide in which parts of the city, gun businesses can set up shop
Neighborhoods in the west and south — like the one Baker was murdered in — tend to be lower income, crime-ridden and predominantly minority areas. And black support for the mayor is shrinking. Neighborhoods in the north — where many of his six-figure salary donors live — have lower crime, higher wealth and are predominantly white.
Just when he thought keeping residents safe was hard enough now — because gun shops will draw the attention of criminals — he has to decide which ones may potentially become less so.
I simply don’t understand the argument that gun shops should be banned because criminals attempt to rob them. Pharmacies are robbed every day in this country and the stolen drugs frequently wind up on the streets. Should we ban pharmacies? Or does it perhaps make more sense to suggest that gun shops in Chicago (along with every other commercial enterprise) could do with more police protection, enforcement of current laws and suppression of the criminal element?
Very little of this gun rights debate offering makes any sense. But perhaps the source isn’t quite as unbiased and open to both sides of the debate as he portrays himself. After all, this is apparently the same person who chose to defend the President over the “if you like your health plan” debacle by saying, hey… every president is going to lie to you.