Roland’s Guns

Burris forgets pistol, shotgun

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Is Roland Burris armed?

It's hard to tell, given the putative gun control advocate's record of saying one thing about gun ownership and doing another.

"A longtime advocate of a national handgun ban, Burris organized Chicago’s first Gun Turn-In Day in 1993," the Tribune's Steve Chapman recalls. "But when he ran for governor the following year, he admitted that he owned a handgun (‘for protection’) and did not hand it over to police as he urged others to do.”

The incident gave ammunition - no pun intended - to gun control detractors and, as Jim Geraghty points out at the National Review Online, made its way into a 1996 book called Politically Correct Guns:

"Illinois Attorney General Roland Burris was a major promoter of the 1993 Gun Turn-In Day in Chicago.

"He was also a candidate for nomination as Governor of Illinois in 1994.

"Then the Chicago Tribune caught him with his handgun still at home.

"The Trib ran a story noting that while Attorney General Burris persuaded others to turn in their guns, he had somehow failed to persuade himself to do likewise.

"When asked why he didn't turn in his own gun, Burris told members of the Tribune's editorial board: 'I just didn't get around to doing it'."

Which is true. From the Tribune's original reporting in 1994:

"Give up your guns.

"That was the message Atty. Gen. Roland Burris preached last fall when he pushed Chicago's first Gun Turn-In Day. It was the same message he delivered 10 years ago while running for the U.S. Senate.

"Apparently the pitch wasn't entirely convincing. On Wednesday, Burris, one of three major contenders for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, acknowledged he still keeps a handgun in his South Side home.

"Last October, Burris organized Chicago's first Gun Turn-In Day, when the chance to get free White Sox or Bulls tickets persuaded the owners of 142 firearms-handguns, automatic rifles, even a double-barrel, sawed-off shotgun-to give up their weapons.

"Asked Wednesday why he didn't join those gun owners, Burris told members of the Tribune's editorial board: 'I just didn't get around to doing it.'

"While Chicago now prohibits handgun ownership, Burris' gun was legally registered before the ban went into effect.

"'It's a little, small thing. I just have it there for safety,' he said at the time. If I ban them, I'm going to be the first one to burn mine.'

"Spokesmen for the other two leading Democratic candidates, Cook County Board President Richard Phelan and Comptroller Dawn Clark Netsch, said they did not own firearms."

A day after the Tribune story in 1994, Burris reportedly turned in a pistol. "It's a small handgun that he (got) for protection some years ago. He simply had forgotten about it," Burris spokesman Don Rashid said at the time.

End of story?

Not quite.

Last summer, the Sun-Timesreported this:

"Only 25 people have taken advantage of Chicago's four-month gun registration amnesty, including former Attorney General Roland Burris."

According to the Tribune, Burris was "storing a gun in Decatur because he forgot to renew his registration . . . The engraved shotgun was given to Burris by Illinois State Police when Burris left office."

Given his record, let's hope Burris doesn't forget to double-check his luggage before he tries to fly to Washington.

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