Gun control advocates believe that infringing the right of law abiding citizens to own a gun for self defense or sporting purposes will somehow prevent criminals from having a gun and using it to commit a crime. The fact is that criminals ignore the laws that tell them not to have a gun, just as they ignore the rest of society’s laws. A few recent examples from the Chicago area illustrate this point:
The March 2009 Wilmette Murder Suicide
In the beginning of March 2009, a man named Richard C. Wiley fatally shot his wife Kathy Wiley-Motes and her 17 year old son Christopher Motes, before turning the gun on himself. According to a lengthy and rambling suicide note, he killed his wife and her son after hearing that his wife had plans for the evening, and then leaping to the conclusion that she might be planning to see another man. Kathy and Christopher were not the first people that Richard had killed. In fact, he stabbed his wife to death in 1985 after becoming angry, and claimed insanity by saying he suffered from “intermittent explosive disorder.” The jury didn’t buy it. He was convicted of the killing, and sentenced to 30 years in prison – only to be paroled early in 2000. The prosecutor tried to push for an 80 year sentence, but our legal system decided that a 30 year sentence (with less than 15 year actually spent in prison) was enough for this brutal stabbing murder. As a convicted felon, both Illinois and Federal law prohibited him from owning or even touching a gun. Yet those laws didn’t stop him from picking up a civil-war-replica muzzle loading rifle and using it to kill his two victims and then, a day later, himself. The lesson here is that a person who is willing to commit murder will do so, whether they have a gun or not, and regardless of whether the law tells them that they may not so much as touch a gun. A corollary to that is that we need “criminal control” rather than gun control, as keeping this convicted killer in prison would have prevented him from being able to take the lives of a second and third innocent person.
The Oak Park Garage Armed Robberies
Over the summer of 2008, there was a series of garage armed robberies. In these robberies, victims were attacked in their own garages and relieved of their valuables by a criminal who had a handgun. A suspect was recently apprehended, and Oak Park police are extremely confident that that this suspect was behind those robberies (and he has been charged with more armed robberies in Chicago too). It turns out that the suspect is a convicted felon, who was on parole. As such, he is prohibited by Federal and Illinois laws from even touching a gun. The terms of his parole almost certainly forbade armed robbery or gun possession as well. Finally, the city of Chicago and the village of Oak Park both have handgun bans. Yet not one of these federal, state, or local laws, or the parole conditions, prevented this man from allegedly having a gun and committing the armed robberies in Chicago or Oak Park.
The February 2009 Chicago Rape and Murder Spree
A convicted felon from the west side of Chicago is linked to a 3 day rape and armed robbery spree by DNA evidence, and was arrested this week. In each of the crimes, the attacker had a gun, robbed and kidnapped the victims, and sexually assaulted two of them. Only the fact that one woman was pregnant and the robber’s dislike of this fact saved her from being raped in front of her boyfriend, although the armed robber did fire at the ground after kidnapping and robbing the couple. As a convicted felon, the alleged robber and rapist was prohibited by Federal and state of Illinois law from having a gun. The Chicago handgun ban also made it a crime for him to have a gun. But not one of these laws stopped the alleged rapist and robber from being armed – although such gun control laws did ensure that his victims were defenseless.
Until criminals start obeying the law, gun control just isn’t going to work. Instead, it only ensures that crime victims are left defenseless.