By Vin Suprynowicz
Mayor defends gun law with bayonet? As an 80-year-old Korean War veteran, his wife and great-grandson slept in their home in the Humboldt Park neighborhood of Chicago just before dawn on May 26, a would-be burglar broke in a basement window, crawled over some discarded paint buckets, and made his way up winding stairs to an enclosed porch.
The intruder tried the knob of the locked door that led to the first-floor apartment. He then turned to the oversized glass window of the 80-year-old's bedroom, pulled out his gun and fired, police and family say.
But just as the man got off a second round, the homeowner, who had a handgun of his own, fired a single shot, killing the intruder.
"He missed, (but) my daddy didn't," said the 80-year-old's son, Butch Gant, who lives upstairs.
"My father had no choice. It was him or the other guy."
The shooting came as the U.S. Supreme Court was expected to rule by the end of June on Chicago's decades-old ban on possessing handguns. During oral arguments in March, the court's majority appeared to lean toward striking down the city ordinance. That means they're expected to rule—again—that residents have a constitutional right to keep a handgun at home.
(How many times do they have to issue the same ruling before it's assumed to apply in every American city? Don't ask me.)
Chicago police have long aggressively tried to disarm the law-abiding public, saying firearms are the principal weapons used in murders and gang violence.
But the Chicago Tribune reported many in that city echoed the feelings of the victim's family that if he hadn't been armed, the encounter could have ended in their deaths.
"He saved our lives," the man's wife, 83, who had been asleep with her husband when the window shattered, told the Tribune.
Police let the Korean War veteran, who walks with the aid of a cane, go without filing immediate charges because it appeared he acted in self-defense, according to police sources.
But they took away his handgun, which he had bought after being robbed just six months earlier, vowing not to be a victim again, his family said.
The dead intruder was later identified by his family as Anthony "Big Ant" Nelson, 29, on parole since December following a three-year prison sentence for a drug conviction. Nelson had a 13-page rap sheet that includes a number of drug and weapons convictions dating to 1998, according to police and court records. He lived less than a mile from where he died.
If gun laws could do any good at all, surely they'd block ex-cons with 13-page rap sheets from going armed.
"They did the right thing," said neighbor Audrey Williams, 75, of the shooting. "If anyone tried to come in on me, I'd do the same thing." Ms. Williams described the assaulted family—whose names were withheld by police as crime victims—as "sweet people who don't bother anyone."
"How are we going to protect our homes without guns?" asked Gant, the son. "That gun law should be abolished."
Fortunately, thanks to the Illinois legislature's override of indicted Gov. Rod Blagojevich's veto of state Senate Bill 2165 in November, 2004, the Army veteran should not face prosecution, report Alan Gottlieb and Dave Workman of the Bellevue, Wash.-based Second Amendment Foundation.
That was the "Hale DeMar" act, which protects homeowners who shoot in self-defense even if there's a local ordinance against handgun possession.
DeMar shot a burglar in his Wilmette home and was initially charged for violating that community's handgun ban, but public outrage forced the Cook County prosecutor to drop the charge.
"The question remains in this case whether the old gentleman will get his gun back from the police when the investigation is completed," Gottlieb and Workman note.
Shortly before this latest incident of righteous self-defense, at a May press conference, Mick Dumke, a reporter from the alternative weekly Chicago Reader, asked Chicago Mayor Richard Daley what should have been an obvious question, reports our friend John Lott at the National Review Online.
"Since guns are readily available in Chicago even with a ban in place, do you really think it's been effective?" the reporter asked.
Daley's response "wasn't very helpful," Lott, an economist, reports. "Picking up a very old rifle with a bayonet that had been turned in during one of Chicago's numerous gun buybacks, Daley blustered: 'Oh, it's been very effective. If I put this up your butt, you'll find out how effective it is. ... This gun saved many lives—it could save your life.'"
Reporters greeted Daley's outburst with a moment of stunned silence. But it wasn't Daley's answer that was important, Lott points out. "The novelty is that a reporter actually questioned Daley on whether the gun ban had failed."
Even mainstream television news is questioning the gun ban. A broadcast on Chicago's CBS-TV in May noted:
"They are law-abiding citizens in Chicago, but they are so worried about their own safety, they say they might have to break the law. The last straw was the death of Chicago Police officer Thomas Wortham IV last week. That has some African-American families in Chicago considering doing something they never would have done before: carry a pistol. CBS 2's Jim Williams reports he grew up among those families and he's never (seen) anything like it. Many Chicagoans have been upset for some time about violence here, but Wortham's murder has touched a raw nerve in the black community. Now some want to do more than simply call 911 or march for peace in the streets. They want their own gun...."
Gun ban supporters often argue their city-by-city efforts have failed to reduce crime because of the ease of getting guns in nearby jurisdictions,. Lott pointed out in a separate piece for FoxNews.com on May 25.
"Yet, even in island nations such as Ireland, the U.K., and Jamaica-all of which have imposed bans-their easily defendable borders and lack of obvious neighbors haven't stopped drug gangs from getting either drugs or the guns that they use to protect their valuable product.
"Do gun bans really stop criminals from getting guns? Americans need not look no further than the massive gun battle with armed gangs fighting police and soldiers that took place in Kingston, Jamaica today,î Lott noted. "At least 30 people were killed in the fighting. It is a huge number for a small island nation of fewer than 3 million people, but unfortunately murder is so common in Jamaica that these murders won't even be noticed in the annual crime numbers."
Jamaica wasn't always such an extremely violent country. Jamaica experienced large increases in murder rates after enacting a handgun ban in 1974. In fact, Jamaica's murder rate hasn't sunk below 10 murders per 100,000 people since the gun ban went into effect.
Taxi driver Derrick Bird drove his vehicle on a shooting spree across a tranquil stretch of northwest England on June 2, methodically killing 12 people and wounding 25 others by shooting each of them in the face with a shotgun, before turning the gun on himself, officials said.
The rampage in the county of Cumbria was Britain's deadliest mass shooting since 1996.
None of the victims had any chance to defend themselves, because England has banned the possession of handguns for self-defense. (Even rural farmers need to state a "reason" to be allowed to keep a shotgun.)
Maybe the cantankerous cabbie's victims were supposed to dash home to grab a bow and arrow (or have those been banned, too?)
The body of the suspected gunman, 52-year-old Derrick "Birdie" Bird, was found in a wooded area near Boot, in England's scenic Lake District. Police said two weapons were recovered.
Eight of the wounded were in hospitals, three in critical condition, as of the next day. Home Secretary Theresa May told the House of Commons on June 3 the British government would wait until police had finished investigating the deadly attacks before debating whether UK gun laws needed to be..."
Wait for it...
"needed to be tightened," the Home Secretary said.
What are they going to take away from law-abiding prospective English murder victims next ... scissors?
Vin Suprynowicz is assistant editorial page editor of the daily Las Vegas Review-Journal, and author of Send in the Waco Killers and the novel The Black Arrow. See www.vinsuprynowicz.com/.