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November 3, 2007 - Daily Southtown (IL)

OpEd: A Prayer To Stop The Killing

By James E. Gierach, lawyer and resident of Oak Lawn.

Return to Drug War News: Don't Miss Archive

The Rev. Michael Pfleger, of St. Sabina Church, led yet another march on Chuck's Gun Shop in sunny Riverdale on Saturday. Why? To stop the killing, he says.

Unfortunately, Pfleger is leading his flock down the wrong path.

Mayor Richard Daley, the Rev. Jesse Jackson and Pfleger all tout the goodness of more gun control, but all three of them shy away from the central issue.

How can we take guns out of the hands of young men who join gangs, make their living selling drugs and rake in outrageous profits in the process?

Drug prohibition is such a gold mine that these Kennedy-like entrepreneurs must arm themselves to the teeth to protect their staked corner, their drugs, their cash and their gang. And, of course, once drug prohibition has armed a gang-banger for one purpose, it has armed that gang-banger for every purpose -- a fight about a girl, disrespect of the gang, disagreement about the division of profits, retaliation, etc.

By legalizing, controlling and regulating illicit drugs instead of prohibiting them, we could stop much of the killing and gunfire. But none of these three leaders are up to it.

It is easier for the big three to target a handful of gun stores or to march for more gun control than face the central issue, which is: How do we take firearms out of the hands of tens of thousands of Chicago drug dealers and gang-bangers who are latched like a leech onto the drug-war (teet)?

Daley recently has said, "It's the money." According to Peter McWilliams in his best-selling book, "Ain't Nobody's Business If You Do," Al Capone was making $2 billion a year (in today's money) from alcohol prohibition. The front page of the Chicago Sun-Times (on Dec. 20, 2002, five years ago), proclaimed "$7 Billion Addiction: The Drug Trade In The City and Suburbs."

Daley recently cited the successful church-supported gun buyback program in July that yielded 6,705 guns in Chicago. Sounds promising, unless you know there are "about 200 million guns in civilian hands in America," according to Yale law school professor (former President Clinton's law professor) Steven B. Duke.

In "America's Longest War: Rethinking Our Tragic Crusade Against Drugs," Duke and co-author Albert C. Gross, J.D. write (p. 111):

"Criminals who deal in large quantities of contraband and illicit cash are especially vulnerable to predatory outlaws. They are often robbed, even kidnapped for ransom. They are not only disabled from seeking help from the police, they can't even use the services of a bank or an armored car company. They need weapons, more deadly or more numerous than those possessed by their predators. Drug money provides the funds with which to purchase them."

If we could step up the gun buyback success from 6,705 guns to a million guns a year, it would take a century to get half the guns off American streets, assuming gun manufacturers would stop making new ones. Stop the killing with gun control?

It's about time our leaders started shooting straight with people, many of whom are sick and tired of the endless gunfire and innocents caught in the crossfire.

The truth is that nothing, absolutely nothing, offers any hope of restoring peace and quiet to many Chicago-area neighborhoods except an end to Capone-type prohibition. It will take some politicians and preachers with some real guts to lead us in that prayer.

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