Shooting Utopia

August 28, 2012 by Ben Crystal

Over the weekend, 28 people in Chicago ended up on the wrong end of a gun barrel; 9 of them failed to survive the encounter.

In the 16th century, Sir Thomas More first theorized Utopia as an island blessed by the perfect union of civilized legal, political and social interaction.

By modern definition, Utopia is paradise. The problem with Utopia lies in More’s own description. Utopia is imaginary. It can’t exist for one simple reason: Everyone’s vision is different.

For example, my version includes palm trees, one of those infinity pools and Rebecca De Mornay serving me my famous “Scotch coffee” (the recipe is noted in an earlier column) while she’s dressed in the stuff Victoria thought was a little too secret. Meanwhile, a Marine Force Recon sniper sits on the roof with a Dillon Minigun to keep unwanted visitors clear.

Your version might be different. Perhaps you might prefer a different locale. Maybe your Utopia includes the Marine serving the drinks while De Mornay mans the Minigun (have fun telling the Marine about his new orders).

But that’s the nature of Utopia. It can’t exist, because it changes from person to person. The best we can do is to carve out a slice of something close amid the less-than-Utopian travails of daily life. And that’s why we have a Constitution. That magnificent document enumerates the tools we have at our disposal to make our own world as perfect as possible. It also enumerates the limits to which others can go to restrict our efforts. As any observer of left-wing political activism knows, the liberal idea of Utopia specifically obviates mine — and not just because De Mornay will complain about her “work uniform.”

Consider the self-described “Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.” Its version of Utopia pretty much crumples up mine and throws it in the compost heap with the Bill of Rights. The 2nd Amendment doesn’t exist in the Brady Utopia.

Barring government service, you and I have no right to keep arms and certainly have none to bear. And, because guns are banned in Bradyland, crimes involving firearms are unheard of. Of course, in keeping with the logical impossibility of Utopia, no such place exists.

Except that it does. Welcome to Chicago, the Brady Campaign’s idea of Utopia. The Windy City has served as an ersatz laboratory for statists to test the limits of the Bill of Rights; it features some of the most stringent gun-ownership laws in the country. Indeed, the heart of Democratic-machine political hegemony, Chicago has run afoul of the Constitution on multiple occasions in the past few years. First, a Supreme Court decision (McDonald v. Chicago, 2010) winged Chicago’s decades-old handgun ban. Then, a second Federal court ruling staggered the city’s revamped-but-still-draconian gun laws. With the Federal courts whacking them across the nose with a rolled-up copy of the Bill of Rights, Chicago’s city authorities have resisted the lesson, trying desperately to restrict gun ownership by every means at their disposal.

And what an idyllic paradise Chicago has become as a result — provided you ignore all the violent crime. Although not as much a modern-day expression of the Wild West as neighbors like St. Louis and fellow Illinois burg Springfield, Chicago is a virtual shooting gallery. Despite a citizenry disarmed by statute, the third-largest city in the Nation is nearly three times as violent as the largest, New York, and twice as dangerous as No. 2, Los Angeles. While Chicago’s crime rate doesn’t rise to the shocking levels of Democrat-controlled enclaves such as New Orleans or Detroit (which actually surprised me; I presumed Detroit would have run out of victims by now), it’s a dangerous place despite its disarmed denizens.

This past weekend, Chi-Town proffered more proof of the Brady Campaign’s folly. Twenty-eight people ended up on the wrong end of the barrel; 9 of them failed to survive the encounter. Despite gun ownership restrictions only slightly less onerous than the inside of a prison, nearly a dozen presumably disarmed citizens met their maker. There exists nary a shred of proof that the possession of a firearm would have saved any of these unfortunate Chicagoans. But for the hundreds of victims of Chicago violence each year (including the weekends’ sufferers), the proof that gun bans don’t work is right there on their toe tags.

If Chicago is the Brady Campaign’s idea of paradise, I’ll stick with mine.

–Ben Crystal

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