6/08 It’s Fair They Have Guns And You Don’t

It’s Fair They Have Guns And You Don’t

John Kass
As published in Chicago Tribune

That Washington, D.C., gun ban that the Supreme Court should toss out any day now because it is unconstitutional is often compared to the handgun ban in Chicago.

But what’s not often reported by the decidedly pro-gun-control media is that since Chicago’s anti-handgun law went into effect in 1982, only two classes of people have had ready access to firearms:

The criminals. And the politicians.

Cynics who scoff at everything decent suggest these are one and the same, but taxpayers know the difference.

Criminals are often poor people who are led away in chains and go to state prison, for decades or lifetimes, for using guns as weapons against taxpayers. Politicians wear nice suits, drive luxury cars, and when they go to prison — federal prison, and only for a few months — they go away for using government as a weapon against taxpayers.

Criminals get guns the old fashioned way, by stealing them or buying them illegally. Politicians write the anti-gun laws, and wonder of wonders, they often exempt themselves and call themselves peace officers.

In Chicago, our politicians often go around surrounded by armed bodyguards on the city payroll. Or they walk our streets strapped. Or they know a guy who knows a guy in some suburb, and they become deputized peace officers so they can carry.

Politicians are not violent by disposition. They live in some of the safest neighborhoods, with wrought iron fences, automatic garage doors, cameras on light poles and armed police bodyguards.

Meanwhile, the taxpayers, who live without bodyguards, are told that if they want to protect themselves with a handgun just like the politicians, they themselves will be criminalized.

It is all about power in the end.

The founding fathers understood this, and crafted the Constitution accordingly. They understood Chicago before it was.

My favorite example from previous columns is the case of Anthony “Spittles” Pizzirulli, a top Democratic Machine precinct captain. Spittles was a city foreman when he was discovered at one of the top hotels in Chicago, the Ritz Carlton, in a $760-per-night room, though he made $51,000 a year.

A hotel busboy noticed that Spittles had a gun. And what a gun it was. Police found it, and noticed its serial numbers had been filed off — a federal offense the last time I checked. They also found recreational drugs.

In the lockup, Spittles kept insisting — gun or no gun — that he’d walk in a few minutes. But not before he spit on a female sergeant, told her to find another female to have sex with and made rude comments to other cops who wanted to slap him.

But they couldn’t. Because just then, in walked a powerful Chicago alderman and that alderman walked him out, just as Spittles had predicted.

Ald. William Banks (36th), the younger brother of 36th Ward boss Sam “Pastries” Banks, arrived at the station and demanded to speak to the commander. They had a conversation and Banks expressed his point of view, that Spittles should walk.

Spittles walked hard. He was fired but never served prison time for his blatantly serial-number-deficient handgun.

Another guy known in the 36th Ward is Ronnie “Little Pistol” Calicchio, the deputy director of Mayor Richard Daley’s Department of Business Affairs and Licensing, in charge of liquor licenses and other stuff, like how restaurants on Rush Street use city sidewalk space.

He’s not a cop, but he feels he just needs a gun. But not a police gun. A cool secret agent gun. Just like James Bond, a Walther PPK, though he was not supposed to carry a gun, and there was question as to whether he was properly certified by a state board that allows politicians to carry.

In a meeting with me and his supposed boss — his department chief, not Ald. Banks — the boss said Little Pistol wasn’t allowed to carry his pistol on city time — ignoring the fact that he was in violation of the city gun ban.

I took Little Pistol by the hand, spun him around without warning, and lifted his jacket. There was a metal object in his pants, and he wasn’t glad to see me. I asked what it was.

“That?” Calicchio said. “What? That? Oh, that’s a clip to holster a gun. It doesn’t suggest anything, other than if I needed to carry a gun, if I needed to, that’s something I could put it in.”

Rather than fire him, Daley promoted him. When I last saw Little Pistol a few days ago, he was holding up a wall at a sidewalk cafe, the street lined with black Mercedes, and I made a pistol sign with my finger and thumb and winked. He smiled back.

That day, the gossip out of Washington was that the Supreme Court was ready to knock down the D.C. gun ban, and then the natural progression would come to Chicago.

But Spittles and Little Pistol and the political class don’t have to wait for the 2nd Amendment to apply to them in this city of reformers. That’s the Chicago Way.