Cop's Murder Has Some Thinking Of Carrying A Gun
Date: Wednesday, May 26, 2010 @ 11:20:50 CDT

Some Gun Control Supporters Now Thinking Of Breaking City's Handgun Ban


They are law-abiding citizens in Chicago, but they are so worried about their own safety, they say they might have to break the law.
The last straw was the death of Chicago Police officer Thomas Wortham IV last week.

That has some African-American families in Chicago considering doing something they never would have done before: carry a pistol.

CBS 2's Jim Williams reports he grew up among those families and he's never anything like it.

Many Chicagoans have been upset for some time about violence here, but Wortham's murder has touched a raw nerve in the black community.

Now some want to do more than simply call 911 or march for peace in the streets. They want their own gun.

Mike Robinson, who runs basketball camps, is hearing it.

"I've heard parents in my basketball camps express that very fervently, just over the weekend, that they want the right to protect themselves," Robinson said.

Estella Jernigan, works at a seniors center in Chatham, talked to an older man here who's taking a job for one reason.

"He said he was going to apply for a security guard so he would be armed." Jernigan said. "So he could carry a gun."

South Side resident and local school council member Shawn Gowder said, "I'm hearing that all over town - South Side, West Side."

Gowder, who said his mother had always been in favor of gun control, has now changed her mind.

"My mother, who is in 60s, now feels she needs to have a gun and she needs to take lessons so that she will be qualified in case somebody kicks in her door," said Gowder.

In middle class black neighborhoods like Chatham, people have voted overwhelmingly for Democratic politicians who have overwhelmingly supported gun control.

But now many are scared and angry over the killing of Officer Wortham, late Wednesday night in Chatham.

"I would say the most recent incident here in Chatham has such a profound impact on people's consciousness about violence, about crime in the streets, that people who would not normally want to own a gun, are considering that," said Robinson.

In that neighborhood, many residents have told CS 2 News off camera that they are willing to begin carrying a gun to protect themselves, even if it means breaking the ban on handguns.

Coy Pugh, a former state representative and lobbyist for the Illinois Rifle Association, said he knows why even law-abiding citizens might arm themselves.

"In the community that I grew up in, they say it's better for the police to catch me with it than the robber to catch me without it," said Pugh.

And that concerns people like Linda Williams, who believes more guns in the community will make matter worse.

"All the other industrialized nations do not have the gun laws that we have and they don't have nearly the amount of killing and injury we do," she said. "So, no, I don't believe that more guns is better."

Those in favor of gun control point out that even though Wortham had a weapon and so did his father, a retired police sergeant, the young officer still ended up shot and killed.

But those on the other side of the argument believe criminals are less likely to approach someone in the first place, or break into a home, if they think the would-be victim might be carrying a gun.

Meantime, the U.S Supreme Court is expected to rule by the end of June on whether Chicago's handgun ban is constitutional. It is widely expected the court will strike down the city's ban, given the court struck down a similar ban in Washington, D.C., in 2008.

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