August 20, 2014
By Robert W. Hunnicutt
It's never too late to come to grips with reality, and, shockingly, that is what has happened to Cook Co. State's Attorney Anita Alvarez.
Speaking before a legislative investigating committee, Alvarez said that police and prosecutorial efforts should be redirected from minor drug offenses to illegal gun carrying and use.
"Our criminal sentencing policies should target those illegally carrying firearms who pose the greatest safety threat to our communities, and right now our unlawful use of a weapon penalties do not go far enough," Ms. Alvarez said. "Gang members themselves tell us that our gun laws are 'a joke'. They are not a deterrent, and if we do not take action those criminals will continue on the path of gun violence and retaliation that has unfortunately become the norm in too many neighborhoods."
That's what gun owners have been saying for 50 or 60 years. It's good to see that continuous contact with the real world can make a politician see it.
Illinois recently legalized medicinal marijuana, which is at the top of the sliding board that leads to Colorado- or Washington-style de facto legalization. So Alvarez is probably just cannily getting ahead of the curve on the drugs issue. Whether enforcement can pivot from drug users and sellers to dangerous, gun-carrying criminals will be seen. All too often, police find it a lot easier and safer to target middle-class gun owners for paperwork violations than to take down armed gang members.
But we have to give full marks to one Chicago official who seems to have grasped a truth we have always known.