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Monday, May 12, 2008

Troop surge in the 'hood?

By Dennis Byrne
Chicago Tribune

The only thing we haven't tried in our desperation to end Chicago's violence is a troop surge.

So then, why not a surge? Give people whose 3-year-olds get shot playing outside what they most want and deserve: security. Call out the National Guard. After all, a surge finally established some degree of security in Baghdad, and if we're to believe what we read, parts of Chicago are no less of a war zone.

How close are we to an insurrection when gangs have usurped legitimate civil authority and pretty much govern how the people in the neighborhoods shall live, i.e., in terror. The shooters are terrorists as much as the Iraqi "insurgents." Flood violence-torn neighborhoods with visible signs of authority. Troops carrying automatic weapons, if need be. Armored Humvees. Martial law. Curfews. Let the punks and gangs know that they're in a war in which they're outmanned and outgunned. Let them wonder whether their drive-bys will be greeted with return fire from locked-and-loaded troops. Let them see the Air National Guard patrolling overhead in helicopters.

Of all the harebrained ideas, this might be the worst, you're probably thinking right now. I can't be serious, right? Treating any Chicago neighborhood as occupied territory?

Well, yes, there are a ton of reasons why a military—or whatever you want to call it—solution is unthinkable. The armed forces are not trained to do police work. It could deprive innocent citizens of their rights. Raging gun battles could break out between troops and gangs, endangering innocent people. And here's probably the most shocking reason: The Illinois Constitution, while permitting the deployment of the Illinois National Guard to "enforce the laws, suppress insurrection or repel invasion," also names the governor as commander in chief. That would be the screw-loose Rod Blagojevich. Yikes.

Then again, why not? We've tried all the "root-cause" solutions, and now Blagojevich is jumping in with more: $150 million the state doesn't have for summer jobs programs, after-school programs and what-not programs. Mayor Richard M. Daley has appointed a study group, whose scholars will come up with "new" solutions, but if they do find just one, something that already hasn't been tried and whose failure can't be explained away by "lack of resources," then surely they'll be in line for the Nobel Peace Prize, and we'll all be grateful.

It's always the same old stuff. In trying to "address underlying and systemic causes of the at-risk population," we've filled the landscape with jobs, education, development, housing, incentives, community involvement and other programs, not that there's anything wrong with that, and, yes, there always can be more, and how unsafe would neighborhoods be without them, but . . .

In a twist on lyrics by the immortal Everly Brothers: "Programs, programs, all day long. Will my programs work out right or wrong?" Truth is, community activists can march until kingdom come, demanding they be "empowered to take back our neighborhoods," and little will happen. The media will dutifully show up to tape, we'll feel deep sympathy for the marchers' frustration and the punks will laugh it up.

If my neighborhood were being torn up the same way, I'd demand full deployment. Check points. IDs. Explanations of intent from assorted roving bands of punks. Stop and frisk to enforce the city's tough gun-control laws. The easily excitable and offended will scream that it amounts to a neighborhood lockdown, even a police state. OK, maybe it shouldn't be the National Guard. Maybe it should be something like the more aggressive policing (including constitutional traffic stops to ask, "What are you doing here?") that has significantly reduced homicides and other crimes in Berwyn.

But, I'll not accept the slander that the people struggling for safety in violent neighborhoods are so much different that they don't yearn for the peace and security that the rest of us enjoy, and which is the first and necessary condition for any of us to realize our potential.

They, like I do, want to be able to walk safely with their grandchildren, to shop, to not worry about a stray bullet ripping through the front window and to be unafraid of the violent consequences of so minor an offense as looking at someone funny. You wouldn't find me rushing to the usual media whiners about how the authorities are unfairly picking on our young men, because our young men—as well as our young women, children and grandparents—now would be safe. Or at least safer. For a change.

2 comments:

Anthony said...

Dear Mr. Byrne,

Your suggestion that the National Guard be used to patrol troubled Chicago neighborhoods in order to reduce violence is clear evidence of your insight into some of the critical socio-economic issues facing this Nation (Troup Surge in the hood? Commentary May 12, 2008; Chicago Tribune). Your parallel reference to the use of the National Guard in helping the United States military surge strategy succeed in Iraq, as evidenced by the apparent reduction in violence you see in Baghdad, must be viewed as an elegantly perceptive analysis of current events in that country. There is no doubt that the residents of such Chicago neighborhoods would readily welcome the security that accompanies the employment of hundreds of armed National Guard personnel selectively profiling individuals of various ethnicities for interrogation and, if warranted, incarceration. Surely, the infusion of millions of dollars to finance such “visible signs of authority” for the Chicago surge would be more than the funds currently allocated for youth summer jobs programs, after-school programs, and related community and faith-based programs designed to address the concerns of economically troubled communities, but, nothing works better than the fear of being killed, intentionally or randomly, by gun fire from military personnel walking the streets with really big guns. Your proposal has considerable merit, and will most likely gain acceptance and become adopted by other cities in Illinois, and eventually by other states. What works in Baghdad certainly will work here.

Sincerely,

Anthony Nappi
La Grange, IL

garvey said...

This month the U.S. Supreme Court is hearing a case which could further erode the constitutional right to bear arms. Nationally urban mayors are joining a growing chorus demanding tighter “gun control” legislation to stymie the proliferation of gun violence in the inner-cities. Religious leaders and families of victims are positioned on podiums with elected officials to lament the incidence of gun violence in Chicago, in Oakland, in Newark, and so on. There is a call to ban ownership of guns and the retailing of firearms to make them inaccessible to gang members or drug dealers mired in a hip-hop culture which promotes a drug-gangster lifestyle. It makes such great photo-ops for law and order politicians or bleeding-hearts, that now the “our leaders” have mobilized the “grief” machines in the name of the “children” and begun to bus kids to state legislatures to demand that politicians disarm their parents and the gang-bangers in the neighborhoods.
This month the U.S. Supreme Court is hearing a case which could further erode the constitutional right to bear arms. Nationally urban mayors are joining a growing chorus demanding tighter “gun control” legislation to stymie the proliferation of gun violence in the inner-cities. Religious leaders and families of victims are positioned on podiums with elected officials to lament the incidence of gun violence in Chicago, in Oakland, in Newark, and so on. There is a call to ban ownership of guns and the retailing of firearms to make them inaccessible to gang members or drug dealers mired in a hip-hop culture which promotes a drug-gangster lifestyle. It makes such great photo-ops for law and order politicians or bleeding-hearts, that now the “our leaders” have mobilized the “grief” machines in the name of the “children” and begun to bus kids to state legislatures to demand that politicians disarm their parents and the gang-bangers in the neighborhoods.

Following an English example got us into the Second Amendment. Should we advocate mirroring current U.K. gun control to protect the general public from the dangers of gun ownership by individuals? Want a gun in the U.K.? :
• The U.K. government in 1997 passed the Firearms Amendment #2 Act of 1997 which effectively completely banned private handgun ownership. Under special conditions individuals may be issued a PPW ( Personal Protection Weapon) license.
• the current licensing procedure involves: valid photo ID, two character references from persons who have known you for at least two years( and who may themselves be investigated or interviewed as part of application process), approval by your family doctor, inspection of the storage area proposed for securing the firearm.


• A face-to-face interview is required on the premises with a Firearms Enquiry Officer (FEO).
• A thorough background check of the applicant is then made by the Special Branch of the firearms licensing department.
• Any person who has spent more than three years in prison is automatically banned for life from obtaining a gun license.
• Penalties for possession of a prohibited firearm without a certificate is a mandatory five year prison sentence and an uncapped fine.
• With the Violent Crime Reduction Act of 2006, England has now criminalized the use, sale, ownership, and manufacture of both “air-guns” and imitation firearms.

The Castle Doctrine is vanquished with the Second Amendment when government removes personal responsibility and self-defense from the freedom equation which is the basis of our covenant protecting individual liberty in America. Eroding those values is much easier than tackling the failed War on Drugs and the narco-economy which are the cultural cause of much of the shooting and gang violence in the urban metropolis. This failed policy has only exponentially expanded the number of Americans incarcerated for non-violent crimes. As usual, political elites in America are always quick to emulate some continental political-correctness to show their acculturation and finesse. All at the cost of jettisoning liberties taken for granted 300 years ago.

Ralph W. Conner
Former Mayor of Maywood, Illinois