Mike Royko 23 Long Years/ R I P/ Guns/ The Reality/ The Hypocrisy/ The Loud Clueless.
today at 8:54 am
In memory of the late great Mike Royko, a Chicago treasure who was read by millions of people across the country and beyond, I decided to revisit a post from the past.
During Mike’s career of over 42 years, he wrote some 7,555 daily columns for three of Chicago’s Major Newspapers, The Daily News, Sun-Times and the Tribune, before his death on April 29, 1997. Royko’s column appeared in the Tribune on page A-2 and it was always one of the most read columns in Chicago and across the country because of syndication. Page A-2 is now occupied by John Kass, easily the best of all Chicago’s columnists since the death of Royko. Somebody at Tribune company knows what they are doing. Of those 7,555 columns, I had the great pleasure of being the subject of one that I still cherish to this day.The power of the press and Mike Royko. As I said in the piece, having Royko in your corner is like having the Great Greg Maddux pitch for your little league team. RIP Mike. Take 2 and hit to right buddy. The Post follows below.
Before I get into this piece that deals with guns, I feel I have to explain a bit of history regarding something in my past. In 1982 I was the editor of a magazine called the “Chevrons”. It was exclusively for Chicago Police Sergeants and their families. It’s content was mostly about the job and families, new births, new innovations and general gossip about our world as police supervisors. I usually wrote editorials about complaints of various injustices both real and perceived that entered our daily routines working the streets of Chicago.
In 1982 Chicago was dealing with an unusual amount of police officers being shot and killed in the line of duty. Many were my friends who I had known and worked with. I felt that something had to be said so in my next editorial in the Chevrons, I called on taking the guns away from people who would use them to commit criminal acts, especially worrisome to those of us who are dealing with it on a daily basis. I DID NOT CALL FOR A BAN ON HANDGUNS, but that’s how it was perceived by the gun lobby and their supporters. I was removed as the editor of the Chevrons and then it got worse.
I was immediately inundated with constant harassment, name-calling, threats, etc., both by phone and a letter-writing campaign. Even some of my close friends were not too happy with my editorial. My dilemma was pretty well known since I was an ex-Marine and a 10-year supervising member of Chicago’s SWAT team. In fact, a few years later I became the (HBT) SWAT commanding officer. The fact was I knew more about guns than most of my tormentors. I qualified as an Expert on the Marine ranges and that’s what landed me on the SWAT team, to begin with. My story immediately got the interest of Chicago’s most-read columnist, Mike Royko and he decided to make it public. Below is a rerun of that Column. Just click on it and you will be able to read it.
It was called “MOUTHY MACHO GUN NUTS'”. Mike was syndicated all over the country and my story went out to millions of people. Soon I was getting letters of a different kind than the gun lobby from hundreds of people — some as far away as New Zealand, the Prime Minister no less. Royko, even offered to have some of my detractors meet me in a dark alley and call me the names they were hurling at me through letters and phone calls. There were no takers.
It all went away rather quickly after Mike’s defense of me and my life resumed its normal pace. So after telling you this, you can see I know what can happen when a person talks guns. There seems to be no middle ground. I am 100% behind the Second Amendment. For 55 years of my life, I was armed with either a handgun (most times two) rifles, grenades, a 72 Law RPG (rocket propelled grenade) and many others to be sure. A cop and a Marine no surprise. I respect people who hunt and those who want to bear arms. My beef is with those who use them to commit criminal acts, thugs who kill indiscriminately, and those with mental disorders.
Last year in Aurora, Illinois 6 people died in yet another mass shooting and 5 police officers were wounded. The shooter was a convicted felon who by LAW was not allowed to own or possess a handgun. The LAW was on the books, but as with all criminals the law is for everybody else and not them. It did not deter him one bit, as well as the other thugs who thumb their noses at laws. However, that did not stop every politician that could find a camera or reporter from blaming guns and shouting for more laws; more laws to be ignored for sure.
Whether it’s ego or stupidity what they fail to realize is the Aurora shooter was the poster boy for their ignorance. As I have said many times before, “some people have something to say, SOME people have to say something.” There is always a time for silence.
I’m not oblivious to the gun problem in America. For 33 years I had a Front Row seat. The reality is the Second Amendment is not going away anytime soon. An estimated 375 million guns in the United States are not going to be confiscated or turned in for that matter. So here I go back to 1982 with the exception being I no longer have Royko to get me through if indeed I need help. WE HAVE TO GET THE GUNS AWAY FROM THOSE WHO USE THEM ILLEGALLY. It’s an epidemic that is killing faster than a civilized society should allow.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 39,773 souls were killed by handguns in the United States in 2017. That total brings the gun death rate to its highest in more than 2 decades. Granted, the increase in the gun death rate at least in the last few years was driven by suicides, 60%, while the rate of gun homicides fluctuates over the last decade, the rate of gun suicides has steadily increased. In 2016 there were 17,413 murders and in 2017, 17, 284 were recorded. A blind person could see the depth of the problem. Gun deaths are 12.0 per 100,000, car accidents which were once the leading cause of fatal injuries stand at 11.5.
America’s politicians have to come to grips with two glaring problems — the suicide rate and the murder rate. The treatment of mental illness, (suicides) and the decision of what to do about those who commit criminal acts while armed. Criminals are not victims. Their victims own that status. It’s time for leadership to realize repeat criminals, most especially those who use guns, are cancer on descent society.
More laws are not the answer. Punishment and accountability are.