Standing Guard: A Savage Fury
Friday, January 22, 2010
Through cable news networks and scores of website postings,
millions of Americans have seen the horrifying beating death of a
16-year-old Chicago honor student--bludgeoned by a thug swinging a
five-foot length of heavy lumber. The cellphone video taken by a
bystander in the midst of chaotic gang violence shows the boy
slumping to the pavement unconscious then trying to get to his feet
only to be hit, stomped and kicked by more gang-bangers. And there
is laughter. A girl's desperate voice says, "Darrion, get up." He
never regained consciousness.
Four juveniles were later arrested, charged as adults with the
first-degree murder of Darrion Albert--reportedly a good youngster
in the wrong place at the wrong time. He was on his way from school
to a bus stop. More arrests are forthcoming.
After the initial expressions of shock by politicians and the
media, the story faded. But imagine if a gang member using a stolen
handgun had committed this senseless murder. Headlines would have
blared, "Chicago youth killed by assault handgun." It would have
dominated the media for weeks and may have become a permanent icon
in the gun-ban archive to bolster demands that America's
law-abiding gun owners pay the price with their individual liberty
for a singular act of savagery in President Obama's handgun-banning
Since no firearm was involved, the vultures at the Brady
Campaign and the Violence Policy Center and their big media
enablers saw no political advantage in saying anything. There was
no reason to trot out their gun-ban boilerplate. After all, this
was not a "gun crime."
New York billionaire Mayor Michael Bloomberg's anti-gun
propaganda machine had nothing to say. This violent death did not
serve his ends of bringing New York City's civil disarmament to the
rest of America. The horrifying death of Darrion Albert did not
produce a single headline declaring that this young, high school
junior was killed by a board.
No federal agency frantically traced the origin of the heavy
piece of lumber used to strike the fatal blow that snuffed out a
promising life. There were no demands to create a massive federal
lumber database to determine who originally sold the board or where
it was manufactured. This was not labeled a "Saturday-Night-Special
board," or an "assault board." Trial lawyers didn't file suits
against loggers, sawmills or lumber yards claiming the murder was
their fault for not controlling the "foreseeable" criminal use of
their forest products. No one called for a ban on
construction-grade lumber. No one demanded that those Americans who
do not use lumber in senseless acts of violence give up their use
None of that has anything to do with the after-school mob scene
in a Chicago neighborhood. It would be irrelevant. A bizarre
mockery of the real story--the growth of an outlaw class that
places no value on human life.
And so it is with gun control.
In a city that bans handgun owner-ship and demands annual
re-registration of long guns, the statistics about teenage
gang-related murders are appalling. Chicago is the murder capital
of the nation. Yet whenever guns are used by murderers, there is
always that irrational demand for bans on guns that you and I own
and use legally. The truth is you can't make criminal commerce,
possession and use of guns any more illegal than they are under
existing federal law.
In Darrion Albert's case, the gun-ban crowd's usual fog of
propaganda did not obscure the true nature of this horrible crime.
The media with uncharacteristic clarity reported that Darrion
Albert was randomly killed by young men who are responsible for
their own savage acts.
Adding more shock to the tragedy, an instant memorial created by
friends and mourners at the site of Darrion Albert's assault was
set on fire and destroyed by gang members. In the video, many
watching the mob scene were on their cell phones, but according to
police, not one kid phoned the authorities.
The call to police reporting the initial gang fight came from
employ-ees in a nearby community center.
And what about the argument that the police can protect people
better than armed, peaceable citizens? In the aftermath of Darrion
Albert's murder, the Rev. Jesse Jackson--a strong supporter of
Chicago's gun-ban laws--answered that question. He claimed in an
interview that Chicago police officers were near the scene, but
failed to intercede.
What if one of the adult civilian eyewitnesses who did phone
police had been lawfully armed with a handgun? Would the life of
Darrion Albert have been spared? As I've said before, an instant
responder who can stop violence is better than first responders,
who all too often clean up the aftermath of violence.
That brings us to potential salvation for the disarmed good
people of Chicago (and of every other locality with similar bans)
as the U.S. Supreme Court takes up the landmark Constitutional
challenge to Chicago's ban on handguns. (For details, read NRA-ILA
Executive Director Chris Cox's in-depth analysis of McDonald v.
Chicago here.) A court decision restoring a citizen's right to
own a handgun and the right to self-defense could spell the
difference between life and death in the Windy City.