|Photo from Chicago Reader by Sam Adams|
Ald. Lyle is noted in this piece, but if you're concerned about the gun ban this piece by Mick Dumke is worth a good read when you get the first opportunity. Also note Mick Dumke was the reporter whom Mayor Daley went off on last month when he dared to ask the Mayor whether or not this gun ban had actually been effective.
But from its opening moments, the hearing became a platform for city officials, gun control advocates, and community activists to argue that the city needs to continue to find ways to keep Chicagoans from legally acquiring guns. In nearly two hours of testimony, not one witness raised questions about the utility of the gun ban or other gun restrictions, nor did anyone discuss other potential causes of violence—even though Chicago averages several shootings a day even with the ban in place.Well, whenever we know the Supreme Court ruling on this issue we shall see what the city will come up with.
Police committee chairman Anthony Beale, alderman of the Ninth Ward, said there was no need to hear from opponents of the ban, or even skeptics. “I think anybody who’s fighting common-sense gun legislation will be considered the bad guy,” he said. “We’re trying to make our streets safer.”
Still, you didn’t have to be a card-carrying member of the NRA to find the discussion strangely lopsided.
“I was waiting to hear from someone from the other side that I could argue with,” Sixth Ward alderman Freddrenna Lyle said afterward.
That’s not to say that those who did speak didn’t make compelling points.
Robyn Thomas, executive director of the San Francisco-based Legal Community Against Violence, told the handful of aldermen present—the number in attendance varied from nine to two—that even if the ban is struck down later this month, the council could enact ordinances requiring more stringent training and registration requirements. Harvard University economist David Hemenway summarized a number of studies linking legal access to guns with higher rates of accidental deaths, suicides, and even robberies and burglaries.
And it was impossible not to be moved by the appeals of several parents whose children have been killed by guns in the last few years. “I’m asking that, if the gun ban is lifted, that we put a strict law in place requiring that the guns have to be locked up in people’s homes,” said Pamela Montgomery-Bosley, whose 18-year-old son Terrell was slain in 2006.
But the origins and point of the hearing—aside from promoting the city's anti-violence strategy—remain unclear.
When I asked her if the gun ban is really doing anything about violence, she sighed. Lyle’s ward has been the site of some of the most horrifying gun incidents of the last few months, including the killing of a police officer in May. She actually agreed with much of what [Richard Pearson executive director of the Illinois State Rifle Association] argued—that the murders are the result of a “perfect storm” of things, including gang disputes, a crumbling economy, high dropout rates, family instability, and government welfare policies.
“People are looking for short answers but there is no short answer,” she said. “So in the short run all we can do is talk to people about how to stay safe, and one way is to try to keep guns off the street.”