Oak Park, IL Armed Robberies Continue – despite the handgun ban

Published by the LearnAboutGuns.com Author on November 20, 2009 at 12:01 am
LearnAboutGuns.com > Gun Related News > Oak Park, IL Armed Robberies Continue – despite the handgun ban

For a while, it was a weekly tradition for me to discuss the armed robberies and other gun-related crimes that plague Oak Park, IL (a suburb of Chicago that has a longstanding handgun ban.)  After I moved out of the Chicago area, I stopped writing about Oak Park’s ineffective handgun on a weekly basis.  But, as I said when I moved, gun rights for the residents of the Chicagoland area remain a goal of mine.  With that preamble out of the way, I’ll move on to the substance of Oak Park’s recent gun-related crime:

As Bill Dwyer recently reported, Oak Park suffered three armed robberies in as many days, with criminals using guns in two of those robberies:

  • An Oak Park man walking in the alley behind the 700 block of S. Maple was attacked by two criminals who jumped out of a car. One of the attackers ran up behind the man and punched him in the back of the head. When the man fought back, the criminal produced a chrome semiautomatic handgun then robbed the man of $80 and his cell phone. The two robber then got back in their car and escaped.
  • A man in the parking lot behind a Laundromat on the first block of Chicago Avenue was punched from behind and knocked to the ground by an attacker. When the man got up and turned around, another criminal punched him again, displayed a small dark-colored handgun, and robbed the victim of his wallet which contained $92. The robber then fled on foot.
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Once again, this week’s crime in “gun free” Oak Park shows that passing a law which restricts gun ownership only effects the law abiding citizens, who weren’t going to commit a crime in the first place.  The people who will pistol whip, shoot, carjack, or rob innocent people won’t think twice about some municipal ordinance that tells them they can’t have a gun, just as they disregard the laws that prohibit armed robbery, murder, etc.  As a result, criminals know that Oak Park is where they can go to find unarmed victims, as criminals like easy targets and fear armed citizens who can defend themselves.

I would note that the idea of armed Oak Park citizens being better able to defend themselves that those that are unarmed is not just some hypothetical that I’ve come up with, but rather demonstrated fact.  Over the last year and a half in Oak Park, there have been two reported cases of illegally armed people stopping a racist attacker and stopping an armed robber. These citizens were breaking both state and local laws by carrying a handgun, but by doing so they manged to save themselves from unprovoked and violent attacks.  It is a sad situation when only those willing to break the law are able to defend themselves – and then have to fear prosecution for doing so.

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The good news is that in the Spring of 2010, the Supreme Court will hear the case of McDonald v. Chicago, which challenges the Chicago handgun ban as being an unconstitutional violation of the 2nd Amendment to the US Constitution.  I’m pretty confident that the Supreme Court will strike down the Chicago (and Oak Park) handgun bans, putting an end to these ineffective handgun bans that only leave law-abiding victims at the mercy of the gun-ban-ignoring criminals.

As a final matter, I would like to not that the original report by Mr. Dwyer incorrectly called the second armed robber a “thief.”  When I paraphrased the description of that crime, I corrected that reference to “robber.”  Briefly stated, a thief is someone who takes property from the victim without a violent confrontation (e.g. stealing a wallet left out on a table).  A robber, on the other hand, uses violence to take the victim’s property.  Because of its violent nature,
robbery is primarily a crime against the victim’s person, rather than that the victim’s property, and should not be confused with the much less serious crime of theft.

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  • https://www.learnaboutguns.com LearnAboutGuns.com

    Below is a comment from Bill Dwyer, which he emailed to me rather than posting himself. Since he expressly requested that I post the comment, I've reproduced it below. My response is in the comment which follows:


    Nice try, pal, but I know what I’m talking about here. You’re the one who needs to get a clue about the law.

    An armed robber is also a thief. It’s called a “lesser and included offense,” a legal concept recognized in American jurisprudence, and in criminal codes across the country.

    According to Answers.com, a lesser but included offense is “a lesser crime whose elements are encompassed by a greater crime. A lesser included offense shares some, but not all, of the elements of a greater criminal offense. Therefore, the greater offense cannot be committed without also committing the lesser offense.”

    An Ohio court ruled "If under any reasonable view of the evidence it is possible for the trier of fact to find the defendant not guilty of the greater offense and guilty of the lesser offense, the instruction on the lesser offense must be given."

    In an appeal ruling on the case of a guy convicted of both robbery and theft for a single incident– People v. Villa, no. B195363 (Cal.Ct.App. (2nd Dist., Div. 8 ) filed 12/17/07—a California appeals court threw out the conviction based on “lesser and included.”

    Referring to the “lesser and included offense,” Division Eight of the Second California District Court of Appeal reversed the petty theft conviction because it was a lesser included offense of the robbery count. noted that “robbery cannot be committed without necessarily committing petty theft.”

    “A jury convicted a criminal defendant of one count of second degree robbery in violation of California Penal Code (PC) section 211 and one count of petty theft with a prior theft-related conviction in violation of PC section 666. Both counts arose out of a single incident. The alleged victim of the robbery charge was a store employee, and the alleged victim of the petty theft count was the store itself.

    I'll check in to see if you have the honesty and strength of character to put reply this on your website.


  • https://www.learnaboutguns.com LearnAboutGuns.com

    Mr. Dwyer,

    Thanks for the email. I've posted your comment (and my response) at the following URL: https://www.learnaboutguns.com/2009/11/20/oak-park
    While you're certainly welcome to email me directly, you can also post your comment directly on my website in the future. With that said, here is my response:

    As I discussed in the post above, the distinction between theft and robbery is that robbery involves violence. That violence makes robbery a more dangerous crime, which is punished more severely than theft. Go speak to just about any armed robbery victim, and they will tell you that the violence and fear for their lives that they suffered was the real harm, rather than the (generally minor) financial loss.

    Your statements regarding lesser included offenses actually reinforce my point that robbery is more than theft, and that referring to a robbery as a mere “theft” is inaccurate. The ability to convict a person of theft when they have committed robbery is just a recognition that robbery is theft + violence (and also of the fact that the prosecution may be able to prove the theft element while failing to prove the violence element). The following example will help illustrate that point:

    Imagine a criminal goes up to a victim, brandishes a 12” knife, then fatally stabs the victim. That criminal has committed quite a few offenses, including disorderly conduct, unlawful use of a weapon, assault, battery, and murder. When reporting that crime, it would be technically true to say that the criminal committed disorderly conduct – however that would be grossly misleading, since the real newsworthy issue is the stabbing murder.

    The same is true when you called the armed robbery a theft. The fact that the victim was battered then placed in fear of their life at gunpoint is the real issue – not the $92 that was taken from the victim's wallet. If you're going to just call that theft, then you might as well just call it disorderly conduct instead, since either of those lesser included offenses pales in comparison to the true crime that occurred.

    While I'm not going to engage in the rudeness that you find appropriate, as an Attorney at Law, I do have a suggestion that may help you in your future attempts at debating the law: You may wish to cite to statutes and cases from IL when discussing an IL legal matter. This is because laws vary between the states, and you really can't prove up an IL legal mater by citing to a CA case/statute.

  • Bill Dwyer

    Well, if you made it through law school, it would be a fair assumption you know how to read.

    So tell me, counselor, just what part of "On consecutive nights from Monday, Nov. 2, through Wednesday, Nov. 4, Oak Park police reported three armed robberies, two of which involved handguns," don't you understand?

    The lead paragraph clearly indicates they were armed robberies, and the fact they used fire arms was also noted, both prior to referring to them as thieves- which, in fact, they are.

    As for citing Illinois case law, I'm not your legal researcher. The concept of "lesser included" as I noted, is accepted nationally.

  • https://www.learnaboutguns.com LearnAboutGuns.com

    Mr. Dwyer,

    I never disputed that you had at one point in the article used the correct term to refer to the robberies. Instead, I stated that you incorrectly referred to the robber as a thief when discussing a particular armed robbery. The fact that you got it right at one point doesn't negate your subsequent error.

    The reason I noted that you should cite to IL cases and statutes is because lesser included offenses vary by state. That means that while CA may include theft as a lesser included offense in robbery, it doesn't necessarily follow that all other states will do so as well. That means that when you're trying to argue an IL law matter (e.g. the armed robberies in Oak Park) you need to focus on IL law, since it is IL law that determines whether theft is a lesser included offense. The fact that the broader legal doctrine of lesser include offenses (sort of) comes into play doesn't change that fact.

    Moreover, as I discussed at length in my last comment, the doctrine of lesser included offenses really isn't the issue. We're in agreement that theft is a lesser included offense of robbery – just as disorderly conduct can be a lesser included offense of murder. But with either the robbery or murder example, reporting the crime as a lesser included offense is grossly misleading.

  • https://www.learnaboutguns.com LearnAboutGuns.com

    FYI, I've found the comments in this post to be worthy of a separate article, which can be found here: https://www.learnaboutguns.com/2009/11/29/robbery-