Originally published in the July 2004 issue of GunNews.
A trip to the big city
By John Boch
I try to avoid trips to Chicago. If I’m travelling, certainly for recreation, I prefer to spend my money and time in God’s Country, where the air is freer, grass greener and society safer. Reluctantly, I recently made the Chicago trip to lend support for Roderick Pritchett.
After we arrived and found parking in the charming, dirty neighborhood (it could have doubled for a dreary “Gotham City” in a Batman flick), I was struck by the intense security at the court building. Everyone except the attorneys and police officers were forced to pass through metal detectors set so sensitive that one had to be magnetically naked (except for your fly).
Unfortunately, my steel-toe boots earned me a date with a professional and courteous court security officer. I didn’t fit the profile of the average customer, so he asked me why I was there and I told him. He wished me the best.
On the way to the courtroom, I saw the county jail building. It looked as though the exterior hadn’t seen a bit of cleaning, maintenance or improvement for at least a century. It was a very ugly place, no doubt filled with ugly, violent people.
When I arrived at the courtroom, I found it unlike any other I’d ever been to. The gallery area was separated from the courtroom not by a wooden railing but by bulletproof glass an inch and a half thick. Welcome to the big city.
We struggled to hear the proceedings through a tiny, poorly-maintained speaker in the ceiling.
It was educational waiting for Pritchett’s case at this “gun court.” First came the rapist. He pleaded guilty and got probation. Next up was the armed robber who pulled two armed robberies, the first of which netted him about $10 (he did better in the second one at the donut shop… $600 there). He was a first-time violent criminal. He got probation. Next up was the shoplifter with a prior theft conviction. Not only did she get probation, but she had to complete drug treatment as well!
During Mr. Armed Robber’s sentencing hearing, some little guy with a silly hat carrying a pizza and some sandwiches walked into the court, across the courtroom and through a door behind the judge. We just looked at one another and shook our heads. We couldn’t believe it. I know any of Champaign County’s judges would likely give any Domino’s pizza guy jail time for contempt if he did that in their court while it was in session.
On our way out of the big city, we passed a store sporting multiple bullet holes. The front door had a huge hole in it that surely was created by a 12-gauge slug, creating a right-of-way at about 1200 feet per second.
It has been said that people have the amount of crime that they are willing to tolerate.
It is clear that Chicago’s residents, courts and politicians have a high tolerance for the amount of crime they are willing to live with.
If that rapist had committed his crime in southern Illinois, where all of us supposedly “backwards” and “uneducated” country-folks live, I guarantee you he wouldn’t have gotten probation… that’s if the woman he attacked hadn’t already shot him dead.