William Katz:  Urgent Agenda

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NOW THEY TELL US – AT 9:41 A.M. ET:  In tonight's State of the Union message, expect President Obama to hit gun control very hard.  Not effective steps to reduce gun violence, but superficial steps that will sound good and probably have no great effect. 

He will exploit the tragedy of the African-American girl who sang in a chorus at his inauguration, only to be murdered several weeks later in Chicago, in a case of mistaken identity.  He will have her parents there and introduce them.  We will all be properly moved.  But he will never discuss the actual causes of violence – the cultural breakdown, the local corruption, the lack of parenting.  It will be the guns and their manufacturers.  That's the way the game is played on the left. 

The president will certainly not ask why the murder rate in his home city of Chicago is three and a half times higher than in New York, where crime was intelligently and successfully addressed by the great Rudy Giuliani.  The president won't mention that because it would mean giving credit to a conservative mayor, and that violates the party line.

But in recent weeks there's finally been some good reporting from Chicago highlighting some of the real reasons behind the city's descent into chaos.  It turns out that the shooters have little to fear from the law. 

Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy, flanked by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, held a news conference on Monday where he sought to clear up what he characterized as misconceptions about the Windy City’s gun laws. “Stop adopting the rhetoric of the gun advocates,” McCarthy implored the press. “Chicago does not have strict gun laws.”

Police chiefs now must take the mandatory swipe at "gun advocates" if they want to keep their jobs.

“We’re here today to talk about the fact that we need mandatory minimum sentences in the state of Illinois,” McCarthy began. He said that he has seen the impact mandatory sentences can have in his prior role as the director of police for the city of Newark.

“One of the things that I would like to again try to clear up, and I ask you to please stop adopting the rhetoric of the gun advocates,” McCarthy said. “Chicago does not have strict gun laws.”

“The state of Illinois does not have strict gun laws,” McCarthy continued. He said mandatory sentencing would reduce the use of firearms that come into the city from outside Chicago’s limits.

COMMENT:  Now, let's get beyond McCarthy's mandatory rhetoric.  Chicago does have strict gun laws, but they're not enforced.  Like most cities run by political machines, judges aren't really judges, but political representatives of certain groups.  (In New York they used to say that Brooklyn had the best judges money can buy.)  Because there are no mandatory sentences – some groups would never allow it because they'd be "disproportionately" represented in prisons – most gun crimes go unpunished.  The shooter has little to fear from the law. 

In New York there are mandatory sentences. 

McCarthy, a good man, had to use language acceptable to his Chicago masters – it's always someone else's fault – but he got his point across.  Without teeth in the law, Chicago's chaos will continue.  But I doubt if teeth will be put in the law.  It's too easy to blame phantoms and not put the spotlight on the local machine and the way it does business.

February 12, 2013