Monday, June 28, 2010

Will Daley top Meigs Field demise to thwart those who want to “pack heat?”

Remember back when we had political fights over the fate of Meigs Field? That small-aircraft airstrip located near downtown Chicago had its defenders who hated the fact that Richard M. Daley wanted to turn it into a lakefront park.

Yet Daley got his way ultimately by strongarming his opposition. Remember the day you woke up to find out that city officials sent bulldozers to the airstrip overnight to make the facility unusable for aviation needs?

I SUSPECT DALEY in the next few days is going to come up with a scheme that will be totally offensive to “good government” types that will ensure it is virtually impossible for somebody who lives in the city to keep a firearm in their place of residence.

Depending on how early you read this commentary, there is a good chance that the Supreme Court of the United States will already have struck down the city ordinance that makes it a crime to own a firearm.

The law was enacted back in the days of Jane Byrne as mayor, and was meant to prevent people from gaining new firearms. After having been in place for 28 years, the effect is that hardly anyone who lives in Chicago has a firearm that is legal.

Chicago Police literally are safe in assuming that any gun they find in the city limits is not registered as having been in their possession prior to 1982, and therefore not legal.

BUT THAT HAS the firearms advocates – the kind of people who think they’re making some big political statement by walking into a Starbucks wearing a pistol in a holster – all upset. Their political organizations have been thorough in pursuing this case through the court system.

The end result is that they got their case before the Supreme Court, which these days has a composition of judges who are inclined to want to support conservative causes. Which is why few people expect anything other than a court ruling that says Chicago has behaved unconstitutionally for the past 28 years.

Yet anyone who seriously thinks they can dig out a pistol and start using it to threaten anyone who gives them a funny look (or anyone who thinks they’re going to take it upon themselves to enforce “justice” in our city) had better think twice.

Because Daley has said flat out he’s going to find ways to get around any court ruling.

OFFICIALS WITH THE city’s Corporation Counsel have suggested that the city may enact a ban on stores that sell firearms – thereby requiring people who want handguns to go through the inconvenience of buying them elsewhere, or through mail order.

Or, if there isn’t a flat-out ban on gun shops, we probably will get city officials who start enforcing the letter of the law when it comes to anyone who wants to open up such a shop. Make it next to impossible for anyone to actually sell handguns in Chicago, and you make it likely that city residents will have to think twice before making such a purchase. No running out and getting a gun because your neighbor’s dog dumped all over your front yard.

Maybe the city will even come up with additional steps that people wanting to buy a handgun in Chicago will have to submit to before such a purchase can be made.

We are talking about the city that used bulldozers at 2 a.m. to tear up the runways of Meigs Field, thereby making it near suicidal for any airplane to think about landing there.

WHICH IS WHY the site of a downtown airport is now a concert pavilion (one that carries the corporate identity of Charter One), and nobody seriously entertains the idea that corporate airplanes will ever land again on Northerly Island.

If you think I’m exaggerating, take Daley’s word for it. He said last week the city would find some new law to pass – one that would ensure that Chicago would duplicate the District of Columbia. The Supreme Court struck down the federal government district’s gun ban, yet the number of people who have managed to work their way through the D.C. bureaucratic maze to get a handgun is miniscule (numbering in the hundreds, out of an area with just under 600,000 people).

This is going to be a case where the “goo goos” and the “gun nuts” will find some common ground to rant and rage agaisnt Chicago city government and Hizzoner Jr.

Yet I can’t get too offended, mainly because I realize that many of the conservative ideologues who want to take down the city’s gun ban include many of the same people who so vehemently oppose the idea of abortion being a legal medical procedure.

ON THAT ISSUE, the activists openly admit their goal (because they are unable to strike down the basic concept) is to push for so many restrictions that actually obtaining an abortion can be a near-impossible experience for some women.

So when the City Council acts on special gun legislation (perhaps at a specially-scheduled meeting that may be held this week), there will be a sense that all that is really happening is that the conservative ideologues are getting their long-used political treatment thrown back in their faces.

That sounds, to me, more like justice than anything said by someone who thinks that giving him a pistol will make Chicago one bit safer.


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