Murder in Chicago: Obama, Emanuel Target Guns, Not Crime

Murder in Chicago: Obama, Emanuel Target Guns, Not Crime

Once upon a time, Barack Obama wanted to be the second black mayor of Chicago, not the first black President of the United States. The community organizer-turned-local politician had big plans for the community he represented and hoped to organize like Mayor Harold Washington before him. “I’ll organize black folks. At the grassroots. For change,” he wrote in his first autobiography, Dreams From My Father

Today, President Obama has weighed in on the Trayvon Martin case, but neither he nor Rahm Emanuel–his friend, former chief of staff, and the new mayor of Chicago–has anything to say about the epidemic of gang violence confronting his old stomping grounds. 

The Chicago Tribune reports that the Windy City is under siege, with homicides up 60 percent in the first three months of the Emanuel mayoralty:

From January 1 through April 1 [of 2012], 120 homicides were recorded in Chicago, up sharply from 75 in the same period in both 2011 and 2010, according to department statistics. Nonfatal shootings totaled almost 490 in the first three months of 2012, up 37 percent from a year earlier.

Is that change you can believe in?

A investigation reveals that over and over again, throughout his political career, Barack Obama marched in lockstep to prevent laws that would have saved lives by targeting those very gangs responsible for the killing–and, in keeping with his anti-gun bona fides, he made it harder and harder for Chicagoans to protect themselves in what is now the most anti-gun city in America.

In 1997, then-State Senator Obama opposed a law that would have added aggravated battery with a firearm–a common charge in gang drivebys shootings–to a list of crimes that automatically sends teens 15 and older to criminal court.  Obama was quoted–along with Bernardine Dohrn–as opposing that common-sense reform. “We can’t just write off these kids at 14, 15, and 16,” Obama said (“Legislators divided on ‘get tough’ reforms,” Chicago Sun-Times, Sep. 28, 1997).

But what about those targeted by the gangs? State Sen. Obama helped defeat a proposal that came one vote shy of allowing Illinois citizens to carry a concealed firearm if a judge had granted them an order of protection.  Obama fought to defeat that bill, citing–implausibly–domestic disputes as a reason. He argued that a bill that allowed those who have judge-issued restraining orders would use domestic disputes as “a Trojan Horse for the notion that concealed and carry[sic] is appropriate in our state.”

Similarly, Obama backed a proposal that would have forced all sellers of firearms–even someone selling one gun from a private collection–to carry a state license. Such sellers would also have to report to state officials. He also backed allowing expensive lawsuits against gun manufactures when gun violence resulted in injury or death–a subtle means to increase the price of guns and keep them away from those who want them. 

Obama supported every possible restriction on the Second Amendment, defending such restrictions as “not only constitutional, but eminently reasonable.” (Sean Noble, “Senate Democrats’ Proposals Take Aim At Weapons Control,”  State Journal-Register, Feb. 15, 2001) He missed only one anti-gun vote–not because he opposed the restrictions, but because he was vacationing in Hawaii.

Flash forward twelve years, and much of Chicago’s gang-related crime is in Englewood, a South Side community that Barack Obama once represented as a state senator. Mayor Emanuel wants still more anti-gun laws. But cops just pick up illegal guns in a never-ending cycle of violence. 

Recently, 80-year-old Englewood tavern owner Homer “Tank” Wright said he’d use a baseball bat next time someone broke into his business. Authorities eventually dropped a weapons case against Wright after he shot someone trying to break in, but they took his illegally-obtained gun. Still, Wright, a former felon-turned-small businessman, said he’ll defend himself by any means necessary. “I’m going to do what I have to to protect my wife,” he told The Chicago Tribune.

As a state senator, Barack Obama voted to ban concealed carry laws in Illinois. As a candidate for U.S. Senate, he told NPR that he favored federal laws banning concealed carry. And now, as president, will he exploit the aftermath of the Trayvon Martin shooting to crack down on gun laws for law-abiding citizens?

If the past is prologue, then we need look no further than Emanuel’s mayoralty. Late last month, Emanuel backed a bill that would force all Illinois gun owners to register their handguns and force them to pay a new $20 tax for every gun they own. 

Apparently, he doesn’t want this crisis to go to waste, either.