Obama Failed to Notice the Biggest Common Denominator in Hadiya's Death

Obama Failed to Notice the Biggest Common Denominator in Hadiya's Death
February 13, 2013

Steve Stanek

Steve Stanek (sstanek@heartland.org) is a research fellow at The Heartland Institute and managing... (read full bio)

From what I heard, the biggest applause line in President Obama's State of the Union speech was when he said new gun regulations "deserve a vote" because of communities "ripped apart" by "gun violence."

I've been a gun owner most of my life, and I've never seen "gun violence" or even the threat of "gun violence." I use quotes around the term because I reject it. I reject it because I've never seen a gun pick itself up and shoot.

There were more than 40 murders in Obama's home town of Chicago in January, including the murder of an apparently lovely 15-year-old girl named Hadiya Pendleton less than one mile from Obama's Chicago house. Hadiya had performed in last month's ceremonies for Obama's second inaugural, and a few days later she was dead. Hadiya figured prominently in Obama's speech.

The latest news on Hadiya's death is that two young gang members have been arrested and charged with her murder. They apparently were shooting at someone else and hit Hadiya by mistake.

The Feb. 9 edition of the Chicago Sun-Times takes up most of the front page and two pages inside with coverage of Hadiya's wake. On page 8 of that same edition we see this headline: "40-year sentence for running "barbaric' Latin Kings." It's about Latin Kings leader Vicente Garcia who "ruled over 10,000 young 'soldiers' in one of the nation's largest and most feared street gangs, ordering killings with blithe indifference," according to the first sentence of the Sun-Times article.

He's been sentenced to 40 years in prison on a racketeering conviction. He used his gang to terrorize Chicago's Little Village neighborhood.

We read from the Sun-Times:

"The Kings' chilling standing orders -- calling for five rival gang members to be murdered in retribution for every Latin King death -- were detailed in court papers, as were the by-laws Garcia wrote for the Little Village chapter of the gang.

"His rules required underlings to carry guns at all times, and to shoot on sight any rivals who entered their turf. Enforcers patrolled the neighborhood overnight from Thursday to Sunday night to ensure that 'soldiers' guarded their blocks and had ready access to firearms.

"Underlings who broker the rules suffered severe beatings, including the leader of the Cicero faction of the Latin Kings, Nedal Issa, who was punished for not shooting a rival fast enough."

The Sun-Times adds that prosecutors detailed 20 killings Garcia had a hand in and said the Latin Kings "were involved in the lion's share of the 247 murders in Little Village between 2000 and 2007."

A few weeks ago I was on the Chicago Fox News television station to discuss gun control. On the show with me was a wonderful woman named Annette Holt. Several years ago her 16-year-old son Blair was riding a city bus when he was shot dead by a Chicago gang member. Like Hadiya, Blair was shot by mistake. The gang member was trying to kill another gang member who happened to be on the bus with Blair. Ms. Holt has since become a big gun control advocate.

Most of the murders in Chicago are committed by gang members. This is true in most cities plagued by violence. Once in a while I hear lip service given to the need for gang control. The true enthusiasm is for gun control, always gun control.

I live in suburban Chicago, in a county where there are at least 14 stores that sell guns, ammo or both. There are also at least three public shooting ranges, two private shooting ranges, and two hunt clubs. There are no gun stores, shooting ranges or hunt clubs in Chicago.

There were more than 500 murders in Chicago in 2012, with 435 of them involving firearms. There were no firearms-related murders in my county in January, and there were none in all of 2012. Adjusted for population, my county would have had nearly 50 firearms-related murders in 2012 to match what's happening in Chicago. The last firearms-related murder in my hometown, which has four firearms retailers and two shooting ranges, happened 12 years ago and was committed by someone from outside the area.

If guns are causing Chicago's violence, why do we go multiple years at a time with no firearms-related murders in my county?

People are right to be angry and indignant about Chicago's climbing murder rate but wrong to believe the city has a gun problem. Chicago has a contempt for life problem.

Read again the Sun-Times description of Vicente Garcia's rules and actions. Contempt for life. Adam Lanza of Newtown Elementary infamy had contempt for life. James Holmes of Aurora theater shooting infamy had contempt for life. Timothy McVeigh of Murrah Federal Building infamy had contempt for life.

No law can fix that.

Steve Stanek

Steve Stanek (sstanek@heartland.org) is a research fellow at The Heartland Institute and managing... (read full bio)