Based in a city that’s the murder capital of the country with some of the strictest gun laws in the nation, it was only a matter of time before NBC’s new spin-off show Chicago Justice dealt with the issue of guns. But the surprise was how they handled it. Star Assistant State’s Attorney Peter Stone (Philip Winchester) is the only adult who defends gun rights in a story that sheds a light on what conservative students face on liberal campuses.
The April 16th episode, “Comma,” centered around the murder of Chicago college student, Kennedy Malloy, during a game of Prison Break in a makeshift escape room. Kennedy’s father tells us she was a gun owner and outspoken conservative member of the Madison Club on campus – which offended some people, including anti-gun Professor Hall. The English professor – yes, English – was recorded saying, “Gun owners are the enemy, people. Just once, I'd like one of these maniacs to shoot up an NRA office. Things would change in a hurry.” Wow, they really capture the hatred and derision of the anti-gun lobby well!
Mr. Malloy: I wanted her to have a gun so she could protect herself.
Stone: From anyone in particular?
Malloy: There were over 4,000 people shot in Chicago last year. But no, she never said anything. Um... She did have a run-in with some students. They filed disciplinary charges against her. They were ultimately dropped.
Stone: What were the charges about?
Malloy: She was part of a group called the Madison Club. Uh... Kids getting together, talking politics. They... they passed out pocket Constitutions on campus, and I guess... some people were offended. And why not? It was written by dead, white slave-owners.
Stone: Thank you for coming in, Mr. Malloy.
Malloy: Mr. Stone, uh... 13 hours on a plane. A father's mind can go to some dark places. Kennedy didn't...
Stone: Suicide? No. Someone tried to hide the gun. My condolences.
Malloy: Thank you.
Valdez: She might as well have killed herself.
Stone: You just heard her father. The gun was for her protection. She didn't use it to rob a bank. She did everything legally.
Valdez: Did her a lot of good.
Stone: Talk to her friends at the Madison Club.
Student: This is the only country on the planet that teaches its kids what a bad country it is. Declaration of Independence. Bill of Rights. What a nightmare. Did... D Kennedy die because we handed out the Constitution?
Valdez: That's what I'm trying to figure out.
Student: If you ask me, Professor Hall was behind that whole grievance thing. He teaches English, for God's sakes. Kennedy said he spent more time ranting about lefty politics than he did talking about Faulkner or whoever.
Valdez: Did she ever complain about it?
Student: And who would listen? She recorded one of his lectures. We were gonna go to the newspapers with it. Get his ass canned by the Trustees.
Valdez: What happened?
Student: Hall saw her phone on her desk.... Realized what she was doing, and went ballistic. Bastard actually confiscated her iPhone 7. The next time, Kennedy was smarter. Do you want to hear it?
Hall: Gun owners are the enemy, people. Just once, I'd like one of these maniacs to shoot up an NRA office. Things would change in a hurry.
Stone: This guy teaches American literature?
Valdez: There's more. They were petitioning for the right to carry concealed firearms on campus. They were expecting trouble so they had someone filming it.
Hall: Kennedy, come here now.
Valdez: That is Professor Hall.
Hall: You can't be doing this on campus.
Kennedy: I have a First Amendment right.
Valdez: There were at least seven kids petitioning. Why did Hall single out Kennedy?
Stone: Have Dawson and Nagel talk to him.
Valdez: I can do it.
Stone: No, you'll be too busy writing a motion to delay Abigail Chapman's extradition.
Hall: It's horrific what happened to Kennedy. I can't say that I'm surprised though.
Dawson: Why's that?
Hall: On average, 12,000 Americans are killed by guns every year.
Nagel: Tell me about it.
Hall: Binge-drinking deaths. Suicides. Car accidents. Opiate overdoses. I mean... Why add firearms into the mix?
On the witness stand, Professor Hall further expounded on his hatred of gun owners, calling them “bored adolescents yearning for a bigger toy than the kid down the block, and when they get it, they can't help themselves. It's all about their testosterone fueled egos.” As one of the investigators said, "What a pompous prick!"
Long story short, teacher’s pet Bethany Pierson (Anna Friedman) was the real killer. Bethany thought of Professor Hall as a father and parroted the same line about shooting up a NRA office that she heard from him. They were quite the pair – Professor Hall calling gun-owners “ignorant jackasses” and Bethany saying, “Only crazy people have guns.” Yet, it was the anti-gun person who shot killed a pro-gun person because she was threatening to get her mentor fired. The jury found Bethany guilty of the murder.
As Stone and Defense Attorney Bannon (Richard Mansur) discussed the case over drinks, Bannon recited the Second Amendment and blamed “that pesky second comma” – (that’s where we get the episode title) – for individual gun owner rights. Stone also credited the late Justice Antonin Scalia and said, “A lot of living, breathing, innocent people might be dead” without it. THANK YOU!
Bannon: Uh... Dewars. Neat. Make it a double. Either they're getting younger, or I'm getting older.
Stone: Nice job today. Attacking both the-- the victim and her father.
Bannon: It's the profession we've chosen... "A well regulated militia, comma... being necessary to the security of a free state, comma... the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not infringed."
Stone: That's the last Amendment I'd expect you to quote in a bar.
Bannon: The crazy thing-- Me and you, we might not be here if not for that pesky second comma.
Stone: And Justice Scalia.
Bannon: May he rest in peace. Only he could find an individual's right to bear arms in a punctuation mark. And not even an interesting one like a colon or an ellipsis.
Stone: The Second Amendment ensures that every American has the right to protect himself.
Bannon: What if James Madison's finger just slipped, or his quill blotted? What if that second comma was actually unintended?
Stone: Then a lot of living, breathing, innocent people might be dead.
Bannon: You say potato.
I love that Justice Scalia is properly credited for his knowledge and interpretation of the Constitutional rights of Americans. It is good to see Hollywood give credit where credit is due – though if they had their way, we’d all be without protection.
There’s also a great final scene where Stone and the State's Attorney Mark Jefferies (Carl Weathers) bemoan how college makes kids liberal, and thus, stupid.
Jefferies: I remember Gail's first year in college. She came home and yelled at me for taking part in an illegal war. Some hippie, draft dodger professor taught her I was the enemy.
Stone: I yelled at my parents for wiping out the Native Americans.
Jefferies: When did people start going to college to get stupid?
This was a shocking episode to see on what is normally liberal network television. For once, the gun control advocates were shown to be the extreme, crazy ones and the hero defended gun rights. Much of the show was true to life about how liberal professors and administrators target conservative students and groups – including the verbal altercation between professor and student.
If this keeps up, there will be a little more justice in this world.