Last week newly appointed Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy launched into a scathing attackagainst America’s firearms industry. As part of a church service held by anti-gun protester Rev. Michael Pfleger, Mr. McCarthy proudly stated:
“Everybody’s afraid of race. I’m not afraid of race. So here’s what I want to tell you. See, let’s see if we can make a connection here. Slavery. Segregation. Black codes. Jim Crow. What, what did they all have in common? Anybody getting’ scared? Federal gun laws that facilitate the flow of illegal firearms, into our urban centers across this country, that are killing our black and brown children .The NRA does not like me, and I’m okay with that. We’ve got to get the gun debate back to center, and it’s got to come with the recognition of who’s paying the price for the gun manufacturers being rich and living in gated communities.”
That these comments came out at Rev. Pfleger’s church is no surprise. In May 2007, during a protest with Rev. Jesse Jackson, Rev. Pfleger threatened the life of gun-shop owner John Riggio. “We’re going to find you [the owner] and snuff you out. you know you’re going to hide like a rat. You’re going to hide but like a rat we’re going to catch you and pull you out.” The reverend was subsequently suspended by the Church for these hateful remarks.
What is surprising, however, is that such misinformed and hateful rhetoric would come out of Chicago’s highest-ranking police official’s mouth. He sounded more like a politician pandering to a crowd for votes than a serious, professional law enforcement official. Mr. McCarthy could use a history lesson as well. He’s correct that the origin of gun control is rooted in racism, but not for the reasons he thinks. Gun control began in the South during the Reconstruction era as a means to disarm recently freed slaves.
What makes Mr. McCarthy’s attack so egregious is that as a law enforcement official he should know better than anyone else the close cooperative relationship America’s firearms industry has with law enforcement. For more than 200 years America’s firearms and ammunition industry has made products that have been part of our country’s tradition of freedom, self-reliance and enjoyment of the great outdoors. We proudly manufacture the high-quality firearms used by the U.S. military and law enforcement officers (even Superintendent McCarthy) all across America for use in protecting our nation and keeping all our communities safe.
An example of the cooperative relationship between our industry and law enforcement can be seen in the National Shooting Sports Foundation’s (NSSF), the trade association for America’s firearms industry, decade-long partnership with ATF in a national campaign to make the public aware that it is a serious crime to “straw purchase” a firearm. The industry-funded program, called “Don’t Lie for the Other Guy,” also helps ATF educate firearms retailers to better detect and prevent illegal straw purchases. Just two years ago this program was launched in Chicago. As part of that launch, hundreds of billboards, posters, transit shelter signs, taxi signs, train signs, bridge bulletins, bus signs and radio public service announcements flooded the Windy City. We recently learned that Don’t Lie for the Other Guy signs are still up in Chicagoland.
Superintendent McCarthy owes members of the firearms industry an apology.