In a bizarre attempt to demonstrate how vital gun control is in his city, Chicago Mayor Richard Daley threatened to stick a bayonted rifle up a reporter's rear end and pull the trigger. Of course if a Republican had done the same to demonstrate the conservative position on gun control, there would be a media bonanza. Not so for the Democratic mayor.
"If I put this up your—ha!—your butt—ha ha!—you’ll find out how effective this is!" Daley told Mick Dumke of the Chicago Reader. Dumke had posed the very sensible question of how the city's draconian restrictions on gun ownership had helped, given that firearms are still widely accessible, and used in violent crimes throughout the city.
Daley didn't seem to understand the question; he went on about how many lives the confiscation of guns saves, while ignoring the reporter's point that gun control doesn't take firearms out of the hands of criminals. Or, for that matter, politicians peeved with reporters for asking inconvenient questions (video of the exchange below the fold).
As Dumke wrote for the Reader yesterday,
...even supporters of tough gun regulations—myself included—have to admit that it's not clear how much they reduce violence. Despite having some of the most restrictive laws in the country, Chicago is a national leader in shootings and murders, and the mayor himself noted that “we’ve seen far too many instances in the last few weeks” of firearm violence, including the shooting that left a cop dead last night.
So I asked: since guns are readily available in Chicago even with a ban in place, do you really think it’s been effective?
I’m hardly the only guy who asks the mayor things he doesn’t want to answer, and I’ve been responsible for at least one of his huffing, puffing, ranting tangents, which generally get the press corps laughing, thus enabling him to move on to the next question without giving a real answer to the one at hand.
But even by those standards, this was a masterful and surreal performance.
“Oh!” Daley said. “It’s been very effective!”
He grabbed a rifle, held it up, and looked right at me. He was chuckling but there was no smile.
“If I put this up your—ha!—your butt—ha ha!—you’ll find out how effective this is!”
For a moment the room was very, very quiet. I took a good look at the weapon. It had a long bayonet. (Was it seized during the Civil War?)
“If I put a round up your—ha ha!”
The photographers snapped away. Suddenly everybody started cracking up.
Daley went on. “This gun saved many lives—it could save your life,” he said—meaning, I think, that getting that gun off the street might have saved many lives, including mine.
Daley's performance raises three distinct issues: first, if this were a Republican trying to make the point that Daley accidentally did -- that gun control is dangerous because it gives the law-abiding citizen little immediate recourse when someone threatens to bayonet his behind -- he would be lambasted by the media. So far, they are silent on Daley's bizarre showing.
More consequentially, Daley's behavior is the epitome of the irresponsible treatment of firearms. Any gun owner will tell you that they are not toys, and are to be treated with respect at all times.
Moe Lane wonders if the press conference attendees, who chuckled at Daley's antics, would "continue to laugh the next time a kid who hasn’t been taught gun safety imitates Mayor Daley’s behavior, only with a loaded pistol instead of a bayoneted rifle."
Daley also gave the attendees of that event a primer in the dangers of restrictive gun control laws, such as Chicago's. As Ed Morrissey writes, he "couldn't have designed a better demonstration" for the necessity of the Second Amendment.
The Second Amendment exists for two reasons. First, the founders knew that law enforcement couldn’t defend everyone against attack — unless they created a police state that would eliminate liberty forever. They encouraged people to arm themselves, an important move in frontier areas especially, where the writ of law didn’t run very strongly. The police are very good at investigating crimes after they occur, but not in providing personal defense, which isn’t their job.
Secondly, arming the populace makes it much more difficult for those in power to seize property and liberty without due process of law. As Daley aptly demonstrated, when only the government and the criminals have guns, they both can dictate at will without fear of opposition. When a reporter asks a tough question, just wield a gun at him and then later laugh it off as a joke.
On top of this all, Daley illustrated these three points -- media bias, the importance of responsible gun ownership, and the dangers of gun control -- completely unwittingly. He was totally oblivious to the fact that he was reinforcing a number of conservative arguments with his outrageous behavior.