It takes a lot of nerve for gun activists, who mostly reside in rural and exurban areas, to both berate Chicago's gun violence rate and add to it. Days after the Newtown massacre, pro-gun lawyers got Illinois' concealed carry ban lifted and unloosed thousands of "carriers" on the state. Then, they gratuitously targeted a ban on gun dealers within Chicago city limits, getting it overturned in February. What?
Since 2009, 1,500 guns found at crime scenes in Chicago have come from one gun store, Chuck's in suburban Riverdale. Chuck's along with Shore Galleries, Midwest Guns and Westforth Sports provided 20 percent of Chicago's crime guns in the last four years says a May Chicago Police Department report. None of the criminal-friendly operations are in Chicago city limits and only one is even in Chicago's Cook County--which is the "How are those Chicago gun laws working out for you?" answer.
Last weekend, Father Michael Pfleger, a beloved Chicago anti-gun activist, led a demonstration at Chuck's where a phalanx of belligerent gun activists shouted "gun home." In an offensive email about the event, the Illinois State Rifle Association derided the Catholic Priest's "special brand of frothy-lipped lunacy" and "lies, the fabricated statistics, and the hysterical claims about how private firearm ownership is dooming mankind," and actually compared an unarmed religious leader to" ISIS!
In the Chicago suburb of Niles, similar intimidation tactics are at play and also working. In July, the municipality approved a special use permit to allow the opening of a gun range 1,000 feet from new Hope Academy and close to five other schools including Niles West High School. The firing range "is not necessary for the public convenience, since Niles already has a store that sells guns and a ﬁrearms training facility," says a flier from People For a Safer Society. "The public health, safety, and welfare are not protected, given the serious concerns of community members. The new business will cause substantial injury to property in the neighborhood."
Opponents of the gun range say it violates a Cook County ordinance prohibiting deadly weapons dealers within a mile of public or private schools or a public park and that Niles Police Department employees both testified to the range's safety and are employed there--a conflict of interest. One opponent says Niles police evicted him from a park for distributing literature against the range.
Amazingly, the manager of the Niles range will be Michael Darga, who managed another of Chicago's four leading crime-gun associated dealers. For 20 years, Darga ran Shore Galleries, located in the Chicago suburb of Lincolnwood, which flooded the illegal market with 483 crime guns between 2009 and 2013.
Anyone who has been to a town hall meeting or even posted an anti-gun violence comment knows how gun activists pile on and intimidate anyone seeking better gun laws. No wonder lawmakers cave! But though they are loud and threatening, gun extremists are small in number and meaningless to corporate America. That is why Panera Bread, Starbucks, Sonic Drive-In, Chili's Grill & Bar, Chipotle, Jack in the Box and Target have renounced guns just this year with a cascade or more corporations expected soon. That is also why in Niles, People For a Safer Society and other supporters, are eyeing a boycott of area shops, restaurants, and businesses if the deranged gun plan goes through.
The days of the old boy's network that supports a Chuck's or a gun range next to a school are clearly over.
Tell corporate America to get off the gun violence "sidelines." Join our action against TrackingPoint weapons and Hallmark, the only major corporation that has publicly sworn it will never support anti-gun initiatives. When corporations want sane gun laws, we will have sane gun laws.