The Chicago Sun-Times columnist and editorial board member Neil Steinberg didn’t like the pro-gun rights highway signs he saw on his trip down from Chicago to Champaign-Urbana, IL this past weekend. He trotted out his well-worn playbook and scribbled out another nasty attack on good guys with guns, once more calling defensive gun uses “fantasies” and claiming they “come with a price” – as though law-abiding gun owners bear responsibility for criminal misuse of guns.
Reading it, I couldn’t help but wonder if Mr. Steinberg had a few tall ones before he began writing this latest hit piece. He’s got a self-admitted history of hard drunkenness – see his book Drunkard: A Hard-Drinking Life. He’s also got a history of a wife-beating too. I mention his pedigree because it goes to his character, or lack thereof.
Earlier this year in June, he screeched about legalizing hand grenades:
“Legalize grenades?!?” the liberals among you moan. Surely, this must be a Swiftian modest proposal. Grenades are military weapons with no purpose but to kill.
The same could be said for assault rifles, if you ignore — and I am deadly serious here — the role that fantasy plays in gun culture.
The same day that went to press, Steinberg tried to buy an AR-15 from a suburban Chicago gun shop as part of a planned attack on America’s favorite rifle and gun shops. His scheme got derailed as the store denied his purchase.
Why did the store cancel the sale to our stumbling scribe? His long history of substance abuse and the high-profile arrest for beating his wife badly enough she was injured and then pulling the phone out of the wall to stop her from calling for help.
The poor denied columnist then wrote another screed describing his unhappy experience at the gun store, lamenting how “would-be terrorists” could buy guns, but not reporters.
Fast forward about three months to today and he’s back with a familiar story-line about fantasies and guns. Here are excerpts from Mr. Steinberg’s latest screed in the Chicago Sun-Times:
Steinberg: Those good-guy-with-a-gun fantasies have a real price
You can’t drive down to Champaign without loving America just a little bit more. All that open space. The miles of brown September corn. The decaying red barns. The communications towers against big blue skies. The fact that the crazy 55 mph speed limit finally went back up to 70, a sign that our nation still retains the ability to repair our errors, at least the minor ones.
There are, of course, ominous signs as well — literal signs, like the “TRUMP-PENCE” billboard in one farmer’s field.
Signs for Donald Trump’s presidential campaign are “ominous”? Ominous is three shopping mall rampages in ten days, two of which are likely Islamic terror attacks. The third? It’s too early to tell.
Or another announcing “GunsSaveLife.com,” an Illinois pro-guns-everywhere group formed, apparently, because the NRA just isn’t busy enough. The website’s top story is headlined “ARE NO GUNS MALLS SAFE?” and begins “Are America’s malls with ‘NO GUNS’ polices safe for you and your kids and grandkids to visit? That’s a great question given a pair of Muslim terror attacks a week apart at malls that shared policies and/or signage that prohibits law-abiding good guys from carrying guns on their premises . . . .”
Fair disclosure: I serve as the Executive Director of Guns Save Life.
Yes, Guns Save Life has a very successful, very widely-read highway sign program that touts pro-civil rights messages along the highways and Interstates in Illinois. Signs with slogans like:
AND I’M ON HOLD
SURE WISH I HAD
THAT GUN I SOLD
The actual headline on the Guns Save Life website’s post: “A FINE QUESTION: Are “NO GUNS” Malls Safe? Two Muslim terror attacks in week at malls with NO GUNS policies.” So the Sun-Times editorial board member changes my headline to all caps and removes quotation marks to make it grammatically incorrect in his citation. Is that ethical behavior for reporters at the Sun-Times, much less a senior editor? What’s more, he did it in a carefully-crafted effort to make it seem as though gun rights activists are inarticulate, raving lunatics. It isn’t the first time Neil Steinberg has played fast and loose with the truth to suit his agenda. In fact, it comes in the next paragraph.
I somehow screw up the courage to go to Northbrook Court without an AR-15 (which, I suppose I must point out, Maxon Shooter Supply notwithstanding, I could easily and legally buy if I chose to, which I don’t). But I understand others find this prospect terrifying.
He chose to buy an AR-15 once before but got denied on the purchase because of his alcoholism and past history of wife-beating charges. He might easily choose to buy one somewhere else, but I suspect he’s reluctant to risk suffering another denied purchase.
Give GunsSaveLife.com credit for moxie. Guns actually kill people, and when you look at the stats — hard to do, with Congress obstructing research into gun violence — you see that states with looser gun laws suffer more random gun violence. Because terror attacks — even two a week — though scary, are exceedingly rare compared with the daily slaughter that having handguns everywhere encourages.
Once again, Neil is slick as a snake oil salesman. Guns don’t kill people. People kill people. And in Chicago, it’s usually a certain kind of people: Gang members with long criminal histories that are prohibited by gun laws from buying, possessing or shooting guns. Yet these criminals ignore the law (sorry for being repeating myself), carry guns unlawfully and do things like shoot at other people and sometimes kill them, actions that are (also) prohibited by law.
Steinberg asserts that: “states with looser gun laws suffer more random gun violence.” Really now? Florida has had a shall-issue right-to-carry law for almost thirty years now. Unlike in Chicago where only a tiny fraction of one percent of residents have a carry license, roughly one in five adults in Florida has a license and a heater on their person. At the same time Florida enjoys near-record lows of firearm violent crime (see Florida firearm violence hits record low; concealed gun permits up). Mr. Steinberg failed to mention that fact.
Florida’s low-rate of firearm violent crime (“random gun violence” as Steinberg terms it) has come about because of Florida’s now-repealed 10-20-Life Law which added sentence enhancements to violent crimes committed with firearms, taking violence-prone individuals off the street. Under that law, possession of a gun during a violent crime added 10 years to one’s sentence on top of the underlying charge. Fire the gun, add 20 years. Wound or kill someone? Add 25 years to life in prison. There was no plea bargaining, no parole and no day-for-day good time – just hard time. It made bad guys think twice.
Instead of blaming the criminals, Steinberg blames the gun – or law-abiding gun owners when it suits him. It’s very much akin to a simpleton blaming Steinberg’s Mercedes for driving drunk instead of the drunk behind the wheel.
That’s just a fact. Don’t hate me for telling you.
…The news we heard driving back up Interstate 57 the next morning was of gunfire. Around the time we turned in and a mile away, four people were wounded and one killed in a pair of shootings, possibly related, near the University of Illinois campus.
Police believe 21-year-old Deveron Nash, of (drumroll please…) Chicago, got into a tussle at a party. He thought the Champaign campus of the University of Illinois was just like his hometown of Chicago – America’s largest open-air shooting range. His reaction to being “disrespected” involved pulling his illegally-possessed and -carried gun and starting to shoot. Four people got shot and one woman got hit by a car as she ran into the street to escape the mayhem.
A 22-year-old passerby, George Korchev, took one of the stray rounds and died. He was set to start his job as a registered nurse at Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville, IL today, September 26th. Instead, he died because a bad man from Chicago had evil in his heart.
Not that such a thing shouldn’t be news — “Big festival celebrating joys of life” isn’t news; “Boob gets in argument, shoots people” is. But what you will never see on GunsSaveLife is that chasing the fantasy of being the good guy who gets the drop on the terrorist at the mall sparks 10,000 tragic accidents and unwise shootings like the one in Champaign.
“Tragic accidents and unwise shootings”? Is that what they call criminal violence in Chicago now?
Americans use their guns to thwart hundreds of thousands, if not millions of crimes each and every year. Don’t hate me for telling you the facts, Mr. Steinberg. Despite the best efforts of gun-hating critics, the peer-reviewed scientific study of the number of real-life defensive gun uses stands.
It’s worse than tragic, it’s dumb, and if we were a nation that copes with our problems instead of sanctifying them, we would realize that. Oh well, at least we got the speed limit back where it belongs. Maybe there’s hope.
Indeed there is hope. Hope that people like Steinberg will quit blaming guns for criminal violence and instead go after the criminals behind them just as we, as society, prosecute drunk drivers instead of demonizing the vehicles they drive… or to stop blaming the alcohol for wife-beating instead of the man beating his wife.