Illinois Gunman Illegally Armed, So Media Demands More Gun Control

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In the aftermath of a workplace shooting in the Chicago suburb of Aurora that claimed five lives, by a man who could not legally have a firearm, the Chicago Sun-Times reacted predictably by demanding in an editorial legislation to “require background checks on gun sales and almost all gun transfers.”

The newspaper identified the killer as Gary Martin, 45, who had just been dismissed from his job at the facility where he immediately opened fire. He reportedly was armed with a .40-caliber Smith & Wesson handgun that he should not have had; one that he apparently purchased legally during a brief period several years ago, and did not surrender voluntarily when ordered to.

The Sun-Times acknowledged that, “Martin had been convicted of a felony that should have prohibited him from possessing a weapon, according to the Aurora Police. He stabbed a woman in Mississippi in 1995, and he’d been arrested by the Aurora Police six times since then, including for violating an order of protection.

“But,” the editorial continued, “the police said, Martin’s assault conviction might not have popped up on a criminal background check in 2014 when he was granted a Firearm Owners Identification (FOID) card — and sold a gun.”

According to the Chicago Tribune and CNN, Martin’s past caught up with him when he applied for an Illinois concealed carry permit, “shortly after purchasing the gun, according to police.”

At that point, the Tribune reported, the permit application was denied and his FOID Card was revoked by the state police.

But he still had the pistol, and police are investigating why.

To read the Sun-Times’ editorial perspective, “the gun lobby’s servants in Washington would tell you that more rigorous background checks are unnecessary.”

Perhaps the Sun-Times editorial board should read the Tribune’s news columns or even their own. The existing system caught Martin. The law worked, but the authorities apparently failed to make sure this man was disarmed. That’s not the fault of some mythical “gun lobby servants in Washington.”

Martin, the Tribune noted, “was in illegal possession of the gun used in the attack.” The Sun-Times would penalize every law-abiding gun owner in Illinois, if not the nation, because of it.

“In the last several months,” the Sun-Times editorial added, “Illinois has passed three bills to help keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people, but such laws come at a snail’s pace. And they rarely come along at all in Congress.”

What the newspaper seems to overlook is that all the strict gun laws already in effect in Illinois have not prevented Chicago street thugs from shooting one another, or innocent bystanders. The law didn’t prevent Martin from retaining his gun because apparently it wasn’t enforced, so when Second Amendment advocates insist that current laws should be enforced before passing new ones, maybe the Sun-Times should listen.

Chicago’s body count has declined over the past couple of years for sure, but last year saw a reported 561 people slain in the Windy City, which is a higher number than some entire states report. So the Sun-Times’ plea for more rigorous gun control laws seems designed to spread the blame rather than narrow the responsibility down to local authorities and the man who pulled the trigger.

An estimated 100 million American gun owners, including some 17.5 million people who are licensed to carry, didn’t hurt anybody in Aurora. But the Sun-Times editorial ignores that in favor of increased restrictions on the exercise of a fundamental right by millions of citizens.

“There is so much more we can do,” the newspaper says, insisting that every part of the nation needs to be more like big cities. “And until we own up to it, there will be no peace.”

Levelheaded firearms owners and rights activists could easily reply that there was “so much more” that could have been done, such as making sure that Martin was disarmed when his criminal past was revealed. It wasn’t the so-called “gun lobby” that dropped the ball on that, but Illinois authorities.

To paraphrase the last line in the Sun-Times editorial, “And until we own up to it, there will be no credibility.”