Todd Vandermyde is a lobbyist for the NRA in the state of Illinois and a person I respect. He has been fighting in the trenches for gun rights in Illinois for a long time. He has a different take on Illinois State Senator Donne Trotter and his troubles after being found with a small pistol while attempting to board a plane at O’Hare Airport this week.
Yesterday, Senator Donnie Trotter was arrested for possessing a handgun in his carryon bag when trying to board an airplane at O’Hare airport.
Some have tried to jump on a bandwagon of trying to dance in the misfortune of Senator Trotter’s inadvertent mistake. And that is what this appears to be, a simple mistake. The inattention to detail to realize that his bag contained a firearm and he was about to go through security at an airport.
It is a “crime” of possession, having it in his control at the wrong time at the wrong place. And like I said a mistake. I don’t think that Senator Trotter, nor the flight attendant should have their lives and carriers ruined for a mistake. Neither of these cases was the individual aware of the presence of the firearm. Nor did they have any ill intentions. They were not associated with Al Qaeda nor a street gang. And neither has some sort of lengthy criminal record.
Some want to point to the hypocritical nature of Trotter being “caught” with a firearm despite is past voting record. The Sun-Times even went back to 1995 to dredge up his opposition to a concealed carry bill. People change positions on issues over time. Is votes in the past don’t reflect the conversations we have had over the last two years. Just this past week, Senator Trotter joined with 48 of his colleagues to override the Governor’s veto of a bill to allow the mail order sale of ammunition by Illinois retailers to Illinois residents.
His new district runs from the South side of Chicago, to Kankakee, with changing boundaries, come changing constituents with different perspectives. Senator Trotter has maintained an open mind and we have always been able to talk. And we continue to do so.
Out of state groups who never spend any time working the halls of the Capitol would do well to learn the whole record rather than issue knee jerk press releases reveling in the misfortune of an otherwise law abiding gun owner. Minorities and women are the fastest growing demographic in new gun owners. Gun owners would do well to continue to reach out to this growing group, not drive them away by snotty press releases.
The real lesson of this is the lack of any semblance of compassion in the criminal justice system. We have laws for reasons, but justice for the sake of being punitive is not justice. What is absolutely appalling is the lack of any reasonableness in evaluating the situation and the circumstances around it. Instead we have a notorious anti-gun states attorney, who due to her own ineptness, can’t look past the totality of the situation in these cases, the flight attendant or Senator Trotter, and see that justice is not being done. Instead she clings to her disdain for firearms and people who would own them or even want to carry one for self protection. At a time when other states’ attorneys are publicly announcing that they will not prosecute people with FOID cards and no evil motives from carrying a firearm for self defense, we have Anita Alverez who wants to make an example out of people who make a mistake.
What is really glaring is the lack of proportion. Ms. Alverez was the COS under Dick Devine who in prosecuting Tyrus McCants for gun running, the illegal transfer of 3 or more firearms racked up the whopping sentence of 18 months probation on what is a class 1 felony – for supplying firearms on the streets of Chicago.
Yet Senator Trotter and a flight attendant should be made out as felons for a simple mistake, facing 1 to 3 years and a host of fines and legal costs. Which should offend our sensibilities more; the lack of common sense in the prosecution of these cases, or the inattention to detail that led to these charges?
Donnie Trotter will have spent almost 36 hours in detainment for his mistake. He now gets to go through the meat grinder many law abiding gun owners face. TSA shows they have about 1500 of these a year. He also gets to see the Cook County criminal justice system up close and personal as a person who had a legal firearm, a FOID and even a PERC card. He faces a smear of his reputation and achievements for this event. I would rather have someone who has tasted that for a mistake as an ally.
Donnie Trotter is a friend. But I know that but for the grace of God, in my haste on a trip someday, I could be sitting where he is today. And I would want the same opportunity not to have my life ruined because I made a mistake.
That’s why I will give Donnie Trotter and the flight attendant the benefit of the doubt and won’t pile on.