There is no mistaking 14th ward alderman Ed Burke on the floor of the Chicago City Council. He’s the white-haired, pinstriped alderman sitting in the most important desk on the floor: the one he occupies as head of the Finance Committee.
But state records show another role for Edward M. Burke: Private Eye.
Burke is a licensed private detective. In addition he’s approved to carry a semi-automatic weapon. And according to state records Edward M. Burke is also a private security contractor, trained and certified to also carry a revolver.
In 2000, Burke obtained what’s called a Firearm Control Card, according to state records. He is the only alderman to have one, the records show.
The card, according to a state spokeswoman, is for security guards and detectives "that need a weapon on the job."
It is the same card that State Senator Donne Trotter obtained allowing him to carry a handgun, until he was stopped with a pistol in his possession trying to board a plane at O’Hare.
On Dec. 28, 2011, Burke, according to state records, was re-tested on the firing range and posted a 97 percent grade with both revolver and semi-automatic weapons.
According to records NBC Chicago and the Chicago Sun-Times obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, Burke has four active state licenses:
- His private detective license, which he received in 1984;
- His private security license, obtained in 1987;
- His original firearms training license received in 1965;
- And his Firearm Control Card in 2000.
The card allows a person to carry a gun "while commuting directly to or from the employee’s place or places of employment." The commute must not be longer than one hour.
The cards are to be issued only after an employer makes an application to the state. In applying for the Firearm Control Card, Burke was asked what agency he worked for, which is a state requirement.
His answer: Edward Burke.
Burke’s city-mandated Ethics statement doesn’t list a detective agency.
Burke has been for years a vocal supporter of gun control in Chicago. In 1982, Burke was a driving force in pushing through the Council a historic ban on handgun ownership in Chicago.
"What it does do hopefully is put a freeze on the number of handguns that are presently owned by the people in the city of Chicago," he said on the Council floor.
But it turns out Burke really didn’t need to obtain all these licenses to be able to carry a weapon in Chicago, thanks to a law that dates back to1872 that delegates mayors and aldermen as peace officers.
A former Chicago cop, Burke has been an alderman since 1969.
In 1983, Burke was a part of the Vrdolyak 29 battling Chicago mayor Harold Washington. After saying he received threats, Burke was given a four-man bodyguard detail. That was about the same time he got his private detective license.
The bodyguard detail was cut in half last year when Mayor Rahm Emanuel said it cost taxpayers too much.
A few months later, Burke was at the shooting range, according to state records, proving to be a dead-eye shot.
Burke did not respond to questions posed by NBC Chicago and the Chicago Sun-Times.
Trotter appeared in court last week and said he forgot he was carrying a gun after an overnight shift as a security guard when he went to O’Hare.