I had a couple of interesting exchanges about gun control last week. One was a reasonable debate with a guy from the National Rifle Association who thinks Chicago (and everywhere else) would be better off if concealed weapons were legal. The other was with Mayor Daley, who didn't like a question I'd asked him and suggested maybe he could make his point better by sodomizing and shooting me.
By now you've undoubtedly heard something about the mayor's strange "joke." It's gotten around—a friend wrote me over the weekend to say that "halfway around the world in South Korea where I live, I still caught you in the news (or I should say caught your ass in the news)."
Daley had called a press conference to talk about what his administration is planning to do in the likely event that Chicago's gun ban is overturned by the United States Supreme Court next month. He spoke in vague terms about lobbying for federal legislation and finding ways to pressure gun manufacturers and "extremists" like the NRA. "It's really amazing how powerful they are," he said, standing next to a table strewn with handguns, rifles, and even a machine gun that he said had been seized by police. "They're bigger than the oil industry, bigger than the gas industry, bigger than Google, bigger than President Obama and the rest of them."
He also decried the recent spike in violence here, which has left people dead and wounded in neighborhoods as different as Lincoln Park, Gage Park, and Chatham.
That's when I asked the obvious question about whether he thinks Chicago's gun ban has been effective: it's clear people are getting and using guns in spite of it.
The mayor told me it was and then offered to show me just how effective. He grabbed a rifle, held it up, and looked right at me. He was chuckling but there was no smile.
"If I put this up your—ha!—your butt—ha ha!—you'll find out how effective this is!"
For a moment the room was very, very quiet. I took a good look at the weapon. It had a long bayonet. I wondered: Was it seized during the Civil War?
"If I put a round up your—ha ha!"
The photographers snapped away. People started cracking up.
"This gun saved many lives," Daley said. "It could save your life." I think he meant that getting the gun off the streets might have saved lives.
Within hours video and audio clips of the incident were circulating around the Web, and the account of it that I'd posted on the Reader's site was linked to by scores of news organizations and bloggers. Many of them questioned the mayor's mental balance and declared that he'd embarrassed the city. Many more cited it as an example of the idiocy behind gun-control legislation.
The next day I got an e-mail from someone with NRA News asking if I'd be willing to come on their satellite radio show and talk about the Daley presser. Why not?
The host, Cam Edwards, was eager to hear all about Daley's bizarre antics and what I was thinking as it happened. I recounted the incident as well as I could—but then added that it didn't mean I was opposed to gun control. Quite the contrary.