Gun rights advocates and other right-wing groups responded harshly on Friday to some strong words on gun control by Chicago's new top cop.
Garry McCarthy, brought in as the superintendent of police by newly elected mayor Rahm Emanuel, made the comments at St. Sabina, a liberal black church in the heart of Chicago's South Side. The Auburn-Gresham neighborhood where the church is located has struggled with gun violence for years, and its pastor, Father Michael Pfleger, is an outspoken supporter of limiting gun rights.
So McCarthy was playing to his audience when he made remarks like these (at around 5:40 in the video):
"So here’s what I want to tell you. See, let’s see if we can make a connection here. Slavery. Segregation. Black codes. Jim Crow. What did they all have in common? Anybody getting’ scared? Government sponsored racism. I told you I wasn't afraid [of race]. I told you I wasn't afraid.
"Now I want you to connect one more dot on that chain of the African American history in this country, and tell me if I’m crazy: Federal gun laws that facilitate the flow of illegal firearms into our urban centers across this country, that are killing our black and brown children."
Immediately after those remarks, he also insisted, as he has often said since coming over to Chicago from Newark, N.J., that the gun control debate has to move "back to the center."
But conservative commentators overlooked that more moderate position in their response to the recently-surfaced video.
“After several minutes of gratuitous self-promotion, McCarthy launched into a racially charged tirade in which he accused the NRA and law-abiding gun owners of participating in a government-sponsored program to kill black people," Richard Pearson, executive director of the Illinois State Rifle Association, wrote on the group's website.
"Like most of you, we believe an assertion such as McCarthy’s is too nutty to dignify with a response."
Andrew Breitbart's Big Government blog goes for guilt by association: "McCarthy states his comfort speaking to the “right audience” about his views," blogger Rebel Pundit writes. "Could this be because outspoken radical activist Rev. Dr. Michael L. Pfleger is the Pastor of the Faith Community of Saint Sabina? Pfleger is known for his strong anti-gun views, outreach to prostitutes, anti-drug campaigns, and warm relationships with Louis Farrakhan, Al Sharpton and Jeremiah Wright."
And a vitriolic blog post on ChicagoNow pulled no punches. "[W]e have a top cop more interested in appearing at racist churches making race-baiting speeches than doing his job," writes Warner Todd Huston. "Emanuel better watch out because what we obviously have here is just another arrogant jack-booted thug that thinks he should be allowed to make up his own laws instead of enforcing the laws actually on the books.
McCarthy issued a relatively toned-down statement on Friday. "Strong gun laws against illegal firearms are critical in order to maintain public safety and private rights,” McCarthy said, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. “Gang and drug activity intersect with guns, and all three must be the focus of violence-reduction efforts in our communities.”