You asked, Father Pfleger, so I'll answer. I didn't have a vote on the House floor, of course, but I can tell you why I lobbied against your bill, and I imagine some of the reasons are the same. Others are so obvious I don't think it takes a lot of insight to see them--IF you are capable of imagining that other people have experiences and think thoughts that have nothing to do with your own.
To: Illinois House Representatives
From: Rev. Michael L. Pfleger, Saint Sabina Church
Date: March 26, 2009
To all the legislators who voted no to HB48, I ask the question, why? I watched and listened to your hollow arguments and your statements wondering whether HB48 would make things any better or not, or whether there was a better bill that could do more, but I could not help but think maybe, yes, maybe there is better legislation to be written. Maybe this won't do enough, but why weren't you willing to try to see, to give it a chance? If you do nothing, nothing will change. If you do something, you are putting yourself in position to make a difference. Especially since you have offered no other legislation. Are your hearts that insensitive or your allegiance to the National Rifle Association that strong that you could not say well we'll give it a try? Anything to help save one life - anything to try and stop one more gun from getting into the wrong hands.
Yes, I watched and listened to your arguments loud and clear, but I also hear the blood of my foster son who was killed by gun violence and the countless other sons and daughters killed by gun violence crying out from the grave. Perhaps, like Cain, in the book of Genesis, you ask, "Am I my brother's keeper?" The answer then and the answer now is, yes!I wonder when another life is gunned down, if you will feel anything. I continue to pray for you and for the safety for your children and all our children.
- HB48 would be unconstitutional. Especially in a post-Heller world, this is an issue whether you would like to face it or not. I realize that there are a lot of unconstitutional laws on the books already, at the municipal, county, state and federal level, but that doesn't make it right, nor does it excuse adding another one.
- HB48 would be an undue burden on gun owners. I know you believe that there is no undue burden on gun owners, because you believe that those burdens prevent murders, and you consider this a debate of convenience vs. life. Given that choice, most people would choose life . . . . but the choice is a false one. The idea that I should have to go to a retail store to loan someone a firearm, when I can sell him gasoline, matches, a car, rope, duct tape or a million other deadly implements and substances with no questions asked, is foolish.
- HB48 would not reduce violence in Chicago. Generally I don't approve of utilitarian arguments used to defend principles, but I know you think in terms of utilitarian outcomes and I want to help. The fact is that an extra layer of background checks on people who follow gun laws will have no effect on people who don't--and the people shooting people in Chicago don't follow gun laws. If they did, they'd apply for FOID cards and be background-checked at that point. Anyone who can get a FOID card today would pass your proposed background check, and anyone who lives outside the law and buys or sells guns without a FOID card would never submit to your proposed background check, either. The madness of proposing a second background check as a way of catching people who don't submit to the first background check should speak for itself.
- Finally, let me indulge in a bit of hypocrisy and speak to you as if you share my worldview for a moment. You see, your letter reinforces a widely held belief among pro-gun advocates that activists like yourself don't expect your latest law to have a real impact any more than we do; you intend, instead, for the law to pass and get you one incremental step closer to your real goal, either eliminating private gun ownership or restricting it as strictly as you can manage. Admitting that your bill isn't going to accomplish anything only makes this explanation seem more accurate.