Op-Ed By Alan Gottlieb and Dave Workman

Chicago Mayor Richard Daley doesn’t get it about firearms and personal safety, and after the highly-publicized self-defense shooting in the Humboldt Park neighborhood on the city’s West Side on Wednesday May 26, he should fold his tent, shut his mouth and go away.

The U.S. Supreme Court appears poised to nullify the city’s Draconian handgun ban, and nothing clarifies Daley’s dilemma with guns more dramatically than the slaying of would-be home invader Anthony “Big Ant” Nelson, a 29-year-old career thug who has, according to the Chicago Tribune, a “13-page rap sheet that includes a number of drug and weapons convictions dating to 1998, according to police and court records.” This neighborhood predator made what nationally-recognized self-defense expert Massad Ayoob calls “a fatal error in the victim selection process.”

Nelson reportedly fired a shot from a handgun – you know, they’re banned in Chicago, and convicted felons like “Big Ant” aren’t supposed to have them anyway; yet another failure of gun control – through the bedroom window of an 80-year-old Army veteran who served in the Korean War. Most likely to Nelson’s great, and terminal, surprise, the older man fired back, with his own handgun that almost certainly was not registered in the city. Had he followed the law, this gentleman, his wife, and possibly their 12-year-old grandson who was in the next room might all be dead right now.

Fortunately, thanks to the Illinois legislature’s override of Rod Blagojevich’s veto of SB 2165 in November 2004, the older gentleman will not face prosecution. That was the “Hale DeMar” act, which protects homeowners who shoot in self-defense even if there is a local ordinance against handgun possession. DeMar shot a burglar in his Wilmette home and was initially charged for violating that community’s handgun ban, but public outrage forced the Cook County prosecutor to drop the charge.

The question remains in this case whether the old gentleman will get his gun back from the police when the investigation is completed.

Mayor Daley wants his citizens, including elderly people, to remain disarmed while only someone living in monumental denial would believe that creeps like Nelson might be deterred from packing guns illegally. He has practiced anti-gun demagoguery for years, but that may soon come to a screeching halt, not only because of an affirmative high court ruling in the case of McDonald v. City of Chicago – the Second Amendment Foundation’s case currently being mulled by the Supreme Court – but also because public reaction to the Nelson shooting is decidedly in support of the man who shot him.

Chicago residents have grown weary of living in dangerous neighborhoods where, because of Daley’s anti-gun policies that defend the city’s ban, they have been stripped of the tools to fight back. It is their plight against armed criminals like Nelson that compelled SAF to join with the Illinois State Rifle Association and four Chicago residents to sue the city. Reaction among Chicago residents to Wednesday’s fatal shooting clearly demonstrates that the public supports this lawsuit.

While Daley appears at a press event and suggests he might like to poke a gun barrel into the rump of a reporter and fire a round, neighbors of the Army veteran who killed Nelson in self-defense, along with a columnist for the Chicago Sun Times are telling the mayor that he needs to “come up with a better solution (to crime) than just saying ‘turn in your guns’.”

Daley’s stubborn defense of his city’s handgun ban shows him to be so out of touch with the public, and with the reality of his city’s crime problem, that he may not even be jolted to good sense by a Supreme Court loss.

Well, here is the reality: Richard Daley’s policies are directly responsible for people like Nelson, because the Chicago gun ban has emboldened Windy City thugs to prey on good people they know will be disarmed. Tough luck for Nelson that one courageous older man – a man who had been robbed at gunpoint last year in his own home for $150 – had the fortitude and good sense to arm himself in spite of Daley’s ban, and now his neighborhood is “one short” of the kind of scum that the Chicago ban has essentially protected for more than a quarter-century.

Alan Gottlieb is executive vice president of the Second Amendment Foundation. Dave Workman is senior editor of Gun Week. They are co-authors of ‘America Fights Back: Armed Self-Defense in a Violent Age.’