Sunday, May 30, 2010

Elderly Vet Defends Family, Could Be Charged

Anthony "Big Ant" Nelson

Chicago’s gun ban in trouble?
by Robert A. Waters

On May 24, 2010, Chicago Mayor Richard Daley held a press conference on the evils of guns. With armed bodyguards standing on each side of the mayor, Chicago Reader newsman Mick Dumke asked him a logical question: if the ban on handguns works so well, why is the city suffering from an epidemic of gun violence? The mayor’s answer was so bizarre that even the mainstream press mocked him. “It’s been very effective,” Daley spat at the reporter. Then, theatrically picking a rifle up off the table, he held it in the air and said, “If I put this up your butt, you’ll find out how effective it is--if we put a round up your ass.”

Less than 48 hours later, the world would learn how out of touch Mayor Daley is.

Humboldt Park has existed on Chicago’s west side for nearly 150 years. Many ethnic groups have dwelt there over the years as they worked their way into the mainstream. Currently, large numbers of African-Americans live in the rows of old two-story houses on North Sawyer Avenue. In many nearby communities, crime and drugs are rampant, but the 600 block is a cut above. Neighbors look out for one another, and work hard to keep the community a place where families can raise children without fear.

On the morning of May 26, at about 5:30 a.m., an armed intruder broke out a basement window on North Sawyer and entered the home of an 80-year-old Korean veteran. The homeowner, who has not been named by police, was in his home with his wife and 12-year-old grandson. Butch Gant, the homeowner’s son, told reporters: “[The intruder] shot first and my father shot back. He was protecting himself. He didn’t have no other options.” The intruder fired twice but missed. The homeowner's single shot killed the invader.

Gant lives upstairs on the second floor while his father and mother occupy the first floor. “This man broke in our home...and attempted to rob us or kill us,” Gant said. “Better him than us.”

Gant says his father bought the gun after being robbed a few months earlier. The homeowner vowed to his son that he would never be a victim again.

Of course, there’s a major problem: having a loaded handgun in your home is illegal in Chicago. A case, McDonald vs. Chicago, currently before the United States Supreme Court, has challenged that law.

Chicago police, almost certainly due to the negative publicity the mayor is receiving, has not yet arrested the homeowner.

The dead intruder turned out to be a parolee named Anthony Nelson. He’d recently served a three-year sentence on drug charges. The Chicago Tribune reported that Nelson was a career criminal who “had a 13-page rap sheet that includes a number of drug and weapons convictions dating to 1998, according to police and court records.” His street name was “Big Ant.”

The homeowner’s wife, who also remains unidentified, spoke with a reporter about the shooting. “You’re in your bed asleep and somebody shoots a gun in your home," she said. "I’m still shook up.” As the gunfire erupted, she grabbed her grandson and ran to the living room. “The only thing I could think,” she said, “was God please save my husband, myself, and my grandbaby.”

A neighbor, Audrey Williams, said, “They did the right thing. If anyone tried to come in on me, I’d do the same thing.”

Another neighbor said both homeowners walk with canes. Their only way of protecting themselves was with a gun.

After the shooting, Mayor Daley was asked what he thought of the self-defense shooting. “I understand the frustration,” he said, then launched into another tirade about how guns shouldn’t be allowed anywhere in Chicago. Except, of course, on those bodyguards surrounding him and the cops. It was obvious that he did not understand.

Butch Gant understands. “How are we going to protect our homes without guns?” he said. “The gun law should be abolished.”

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