Ward Room
Covering Chicago's nine political influencers

Why There Are No Illegal Guns

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Recently, Gov. Pat Quinn signed a law banning the release of firearm owners’ names. It’s supposed to keep thieves from looking up the names of gun owners, then breaking into their houses. But it won’t solve the problem of criminals using guns to commit crimes, in Illinois or elsewhere.

    Last week, a man named Rodrick Dantzler went on a murderous rampage in Grand Rapids, Mich. Dantzler killed seven people, shot it out with police during a chase through downtown, then broke into a house and took three hostages. He finally took his own life with the .40 caliber pistol he’d used to kill his victims.

    A convicted felon who had served time in prison for shooting at a man and woman in a car, Dantzler was not legally allowed to own a gun. So Grand Rapids police are trying to trace the source of his weapon.

    I can tell them exactly where it came from: It came from a gun factory.

    The point is, there is no such thing as an illegal gun. Every gun used in a crime is legal at some point in its journey from gunsmith to armed robber/murderer/home invader.

    “We obviously want to track that back and figure out how it was stolen, with the idea of trying to prevent these sorts of things from happening again,” Grand Rapids Police Chief Kevin Belk told the Grand Rapids Press. “One of the problems we have with our shootings, most of them are involving stolen firearms.”

    The only way to prevent this sort of thing from happening again is to track the weapon back to the gun manufacturer, then burn its factory to the ground.

    As long as it is legal to make and sell a product whose only function is to kill people, that product will be used to kill people illegally. A thug who’s planning a murder is not likely to worry about the penalty for stealing a gun.

    As a society, we’ve decided that the free manufacture of firearms is worth the sacrifice of seven people in Grand Rapids, or five people in DeKalb, or 32 people in Blacksburg, Va. Did you hear any politician suggest banning firearms after those bloodbaths? I didn’t.

    After the Virginia Tech Massacre, President George W. Bush signed a bill strengthening the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.

    But that bill didn’t stop Rodrick Dantzler. It won’t stop the next small-town mass murderer, either.