Why the shift away from rights, Commissioner?

Right after Christmas, I wrote about Cook County (Illinois) Commissioner William Beavers’ radical position shift–from advocating an end to Chicago’s ban on handguns as a Chicago alderman in 1994, to proposing an ordinance mandating a near total ban on all firearms throughout the entire county last month.

That, obviously, is quite a reversal. I was curious about what would prompt such a dramatic shift, so I asked him–via both email and snail mail–about it.

Commissioner Beavers,

It was with a great deal of consternation that I learned of your introduction of the “Safe Streets/Weapons Registration Ordinance,” which amounts to a near-total ban on firearm ownership in Cook County. This will serve only to force tens of thousands (if not hundreds of thousands) of heretofore law-abiding citizens to choose between becoming “criminals,” and being rendered defenseless–subject to the tender mercies of the real criminals.

Upon reading “Gunning for Change,” a 1994 article in Reason Magazine, that consternation became coupled with utter bafflement. As a Chicago alderman, your sentiments would seem to have been diametrically opposed to whatever is driving the recent introduction of your extraordinarily restrictive gun ordinance. Here are a few quotes from the article:

That sentiment is common among the residents of Chicago’s tougher neighborhoods. It’s easy for people with wealth and political power to push stricter and stricter gun control laws, notes Alderman William Beavers, who represents the working-class, mostly black South Shore district. The wealthy, he says, “can afford to pay a detective agency or some kind of police agency to act as security.” His constituents, he argues, deserve the right to protect themselves.

Beavers is no stranger to gun crime. Before his election to the City Council 11 years ago, he spent 21 years in the Chicago Police Department, working some of the neighborhoods responsible for the city’s nickname of “Beirut by the Lake.” Now, for the second time in five years, he has proposed legislation to reopen handgun registration. The idea is endorsed by other prominent black political leaders, including activist Sokoni Karanja of the Center for New Horizons and Aldermen Virgil Jones and Robert Shaw, who feel that gun bans prevent law-abiding citizens from protecting themselves.

Later in the article, we come to this:

Beavers, however, doesn’t emphasize the racial dimension in opposing the gun-registration freeze. Instead, he stresses Second Amendment issues and pragmatic policy concerns.

“The Constitution allows you to bear arms in your home,” he says. “But according to our city ordinance, it’s illegal to own a firearm that is not registered.”
(While he defends a right to ownership, the alderman is no Second Amendment purist. He is, for instance, against the issuing of carry permits.)

Beavers is also disturbed that the registration freeze forces law-abiding citizens into breaking the law if they, like Sen. Hendon, try to protect themselves by keeping a handgun in the house. And the freeze, Beavers thinks, makes the police’s job tougher by making it more difficult to track stolen firearms. “Guns are stolen now from people who don’t have them registered and won’t report the [theft],” says Beavers.

Finally, the article ends with your expression of opposition to the extremely draconian nature of Chicago’s gun laws–laws it would seem you now want to spread to the entire county–on both Constitutional and pragmatic grounds.

For his part, Beavers remains pledged to change Chicago’s handgun registration law by hammering home arguments born out of real-world experience. Gun control will always fail, he argues, because criminals are never going to register their guns. And as for ordinary citizens who feel a need to protect themselves: “People are going to own guns. You cannot deny them the right to own a gun.”

So to repeat my question, why are you now so in favor of forcing citizen disarmament on Cook County?

Thank you,
Kurt Hofmann

It has been more than three weeks, and I have still not received a reply from Commissioner Beavers. He is, of course, a busy man, and I am but one person–perhaps he is of the opinion that there is not enough interest in this question to warrant answering it. I think he would be wrong about that, but it would probably be easier to convince him of that if he received a significant volume of correspondence asking such questions. Care to help?

Main Office
118 N. Clark Street
Room 567
Chicago, IL 60602
phone: (312) 603-2065
fax: (312) 603-4678

District Office
2548 E. 79th Street
Chicago, IL 60649
phone: (773) 731-1515
fax: (773) 933-5535

wbeavers@cookcountygov.com

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4 Responses to “Why the shift away from rights, Commissioner?”

  1. DoubleTapper Says:

    3 weeks!!!

    I hope you’re not holding your breath!

  2. 45superman Says:

    That would be a pretty impressive trick, if I could pull it off.

  3. gravyboy77 Says:

    Funny how Beavers just pulled his 2anti-gun bills. I wonder if maybe your e-mail had something to do with that?

  4. 45superman Says:

    That would probably be giving me a bit too much credit, Gravy, but I appreciate it.

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