For 30 years, Chicago banned handguns. The crime rate skyrocketed. Murders soared. Gangs blossomed. Desperate city officials even considered calling the National Guard to combat the out-of-control violence that all the "community organizing" in the world couldn't curb. The Supreme Court struck down Chicago's individual firearms ownership prohibition last year, but the same anti-gun zealots who put Windy City citizens' lives at risk remain in power.
And now one of them may soon be in charge of the scandal-plagued Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
Meet Andrew Traver. He's President Obama's nominee to head ATF. The Senate Judiciary Committee refused to act on the original nomination last fall. His name was sent up again earlier this year, and a hearing has yet to be scheduled. Obama's czar-happy habits should be a red flag on a possible recess appointment.
Traver has spent two decades in the Chicago ATF office bureaucracy. The White House touts his record as a Navy vet and crime-fighter. But it's his anti-gun advocacy that won him Chicago crony backing in the Beltway. Liberal Republican Sen. Mark Kirk and rabid leftist Sen. Dick Durbin both support their home state bureaucrat. Grassroots Second Amendment groups across the country (not to mention rank-and-file ATF agents) have raised their voices in opposition.
Traver allied with the progressive Joyce Foundation to lobby for tighter federal restrictions of Second Amendment freedoms. He supports curtailing access to ATF databases and opposes privacy protections for gun-owners. He has also compared automatic black-market weapons to legal semi-automatic assault weapons.
As the National Rifle Association points out, Traver misled the public in a fear-mongering appearance on a Chicago NBC affiliate TV news show. In the interview, he hyped "the growing frequency of gang members and drug dealers using heavy caliber military-type weapons" and described them as if they were machine guns: "Pull the trigger and you can mow people down." Traver and his agents "provided the reporter with a fully automatic AK-47, with which she was unable to hit the target," the NRA reported. "He then said that stray bullets are 'one of the main problems with having stuff like this available to the gangs.'"
Except for the fact, contradicting the implication of the NBC scare story and Traver's rhetoric, that fully automatic firearms are not available for sale through normal retail outlets. But the truth wouldn't have made for a story as sensationalized and swaggering as the one Traver helped concoct.