Opinion: Columnists

Gregory Kane: One gun victim Obama will not trot out

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Opinion,Gregory Kane,Columnists

Nate Gulliver might not deserve a vote, but he sure as heck deserves a voice. Gulliver, like Hadiya Pendleton and those murdered in several mass shootings in 2012, was also a victim of gun violence. But he's not one who President Obama is likely to use for cynical political purposes.

Last week, the nation witnessed Obama trot out survivors of gun violence at his State of the Union address. He shamelessly used them for political gain. It was so cheap; it was so tawdry. In short, it was vintage Obama.

Gulliver died in January 2005, one of several men killed by thugs that invaded a home for recovering drug addicts. And full disclosure: Gulliver was my first cousin.

Named after my late Uncle Nathaniel Gulliver, "Little Nate," as we called him, graduated college and had a good job. That was before the drugs got hold of him. That led to the loss of that job and his taking up residence in a home for recovering addicts. Other than the drugs, Gulliver had no criminal history, certainly not a violent one.

But one of his housemates had a history that caught up with him; Gulliver and several other residents of the group home got tragically, fatally dragged into that history.

Apparently the housemate with history hadn't quite kicked the drug habit. Several men showed up at the recovery house looking to recoup a drug debt. They forced all the recovery house residents into a living room while they made threats against the housemate with history. My cousin, when he heard how little money was owed, agreed to empty his bank account to pay the debt.

The thugs had one of their party go with Gulliver to an automated teller machine, where he withdrew the money. After being paid off, the thugs decided to kill the housemate with history anyway.

And the other members of the recovery house.

So it was that my first cousin, Nate Gulliver, met his end on a freezing cold January night in 2005. It was only later that I learned that one of the men in the home invasion party, the one that probably shot my cousin, had a criminal past so violent that he shouldn't have been anywhere near that recovery house. He should have been behind bars. One thing absent from the recent debate about gun control is how much gun violence is committed by career criminals with a history of violence that are out on the streets, as opposed to being in prison where they belong.

When he was piously trumpeting that Hadiya Pendleton "deserves a vote" -- to the cheers and roars of approval from his Democratic minions in Congress -- Obama appears to have forgotten several things. One is that Chicago, his hometown, already has some of the most restrictive gun laws in the nation. Another is that said restriction has not curbed gun violence in Chicago. A third is that the issue of the rise in gun violence in Chicago isn't a matter of gun control, but of police tactics.

If Obama knows anything, he knows this: When his buddy Rahm Emmanuel became mayor of Chicago, one of the first things he did was disband the police department's anti-gang strike forces.

Those strike forces used aggressive, in-your-face tactics like stop and frisk to neutralize gang members and keep them on their heels. Were they effective? We can't be sure, but a 2012 story from the Chicago Tribune about Aldermen Anthony Beale and Willie Cochran might prove instructive.

"Both aldermen," the Tribune reported, "said residents in their communities are so fed up with the violence that they would welcome a return to the more aggressive, stop-and-frisk tactics of police strike forces."

It's not "a vote" that Hadiya Pendleton deserves. It's a president who won't cynically use her tragic death for political gain.

Examiner Columnist Gregory Kane is a Pulitzer-nominated news and opinion journalist who has covered people and politics from Baltimore to the Sudan.

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