Illinois Gov. Pritzker Calls for More Gun Limits After Highland Shootings

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) and others responded to the massacre in Highland Park, Illinois with calls for more gun limits and bans. Pritzker repeated a dubious musket argument but also ignored that Illinois has some of the most stringent gun laws in the country, including bans on assault weapons and a red flag law. The media is reporting that Robert “Bobby” Crimo III, an aspiring rapper, is a person “known to law enforcement.” His postings reveal highly disturbing videos and bizarre images, including violent references.

Pritzker appeared in Highland Park after the shooting to call for more limits and criticize the protections afforded under the Second Amendment to gun owners. Pritzker repeated the common argument that

“Our founders carried muskets, not assault weapons, and I don’t think a single one of them would have said that you have a constitutional right to an assault weapon with a high-capacity magazine or that that is more important than the right of the people who attended this parade today to live.”

President Biden has made an analogous and clearly false claim that certain guns were banned for private ownership when the Second Amendment was ratified: “The Second Amendment is not absolute. When it was passed you couldn’t own a cannon, you couldn’t own certain kinds of weapons. There’s just always been limitations.”

Once again, there were no federal laws barring cannon ownership when the Second Amendment was enacted. Gun laws remained local matters and I do not know of any bans on cannons or other gun types until much later in our history.  Early local laws did control concealed weapons, though concealed cannons were not part of those ordinances.

Indeed, the Constitution itself supports private cannon ownership in the case of privateers.  Article 1, Section 8, Clause 11 allows Congress to “grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal.”  That allowed private parties to privateer on the high seas with . . . cannons. (Recently some members of Congress wanted to issues such letters of Marque again to enlist privateers in the fight against Russia).

Pritzker’s musket argument is equally dubious. He presumably does not take the same narrow reading of other parts of the Constitution on individual rights. For example, he recognizes that privacy is protected even though it is not mentioned and our notion of privacy rights has become more expansive over time. The “living Constitution” model allows for such expanded meaning.

Moreover, while the Framers were used to “letters” (and the Fourth Amendment references letters), few would argue that the same protection does not apply to electronic letters in the form of emails or digital files with communications.

In the end, the musket argument is often the fallback position for those who previously opposed interpreting the Second Amendment as an individual right. Some, however, also pushed that line of argument. Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney suggested that only police should have any guns of any kind.

What is interesting is that this is a state with some of the most stringent gun laws in the country. That includes a red flag law, a waiting period for gun purchases, background checks, gun owner licensing, domestic violence gun laws, and “open carry regulations.” This and other counties have “assault weapons” bans.

According to the mayor, this weapon was “legally obtained.”

As with past calls following such tragedies, the question is what in addition Pritzker is advocating that would have stopped this massacre. A high-capacity magazine ban would not stop such shootings. Anyone with a modicum of experience with weapons can swap out magazines in a matter of a seconds.


What may have stopped the massacre is the enforcement of the red flag laws given the dark and deranged postings of this individual. However, such laws depend on people reporting such warning signs and police enforcing the laws. The fact is that many shooters are not known to police or experience a sudden and lethal turn where such laws are largely ineffective.

As a Chicago native, I am very familiar with this area and spent a great deal of time in Highland Park and neighboring towns. It is a very affluent area with a relatively small population. Yet, even in this small community with considerable assets for mental health and law enforcement intervention, red flag and other laws did not prevent the shooting.

For politicians like Pritzker (and President Biden) who raised new limits after this shooting, there should be a demand for specifics on not just how they will constitutionally limit guns but whether such limits would have actually prevented this tragedy. There remain areas where we can make real progress, particularly in the greater funding of mental illness programs. However, there must also be greater honesty about the range of constitutional and practical options in dealing with such shootings.

286 thoughts on “Illinois Gov. Pritzker Calls for More Gun Limits After Highland Shootings”

  1. Another deleted posting, but this one intentional. ATS is on a binge.

    “Oh, brother. A whole string of nutty comments by the putz who calls himself S. Meyer and also posts anonymously. Turley’s moderator does a bang-up job… /sarc”

  2. “The blog moderator should be a neutral party. No one is trying to build a false case, as you’ve falsely stated.”

    Anonymous the Stupid, you are a true leftist, wanting to run the business of others. The moderator’s comment was neutral. He didn’t accuse you or anyone else. Your guilt got the best of you.

  3. Anonymous the Stupid, I see you posted another comment to be deleted, but this time your words made you look like a fool and vicious as well. I suppose you will continue to post in this fashion. I think most are onto your game.

    I wonder how many more postings you have done that will be deleted. I am sure I will find out.

  4. “Jonathan Turley needs to find a neutral moderator. As it is, Jonathan Turley touts “free speech,” while perfectly legitimate comments are being deleted from the comments section of his blog. Given that this is the case, JT and Darren are both part of the problem. Holier than thou…and part of the problem.”

    ATS is trying to create a case that the blog is censoring him. He knows which of his addresses will be blocked, so as he did before, down the road he will show that his posting was removed.

    I already showed how he screwed other blog members, so what he does isn’t unexpected.

    1. Anonymous the Stupid, I see you responded to me using your address that gets deleted. You have nothing better to do than to build a false case against Darren and Professor Turley. That is the type of guy you are.

  5. Apprehended while wearing women’s clothing, had knives taken away from him when he threaten violence and suicide, was still able to buy two high power rifles, and three other weapons, and he still was not flagged by a Red Flag law?
    The music videos depicting violence?
    It is not the firearms.
    It was the system that failed.

    We need to take a serious look at the mental health problems in this country.

    1. While I mostly agree, to some extent you are buying into the false assumptions of that left – that all problems have a solution in government.

      We do not have a solution to mental health problems. With few exceptions we do no better today than Freud.
      We have tried locking them up in sanatoria, We have tried releasing them, we have tried drugging them, We have tried sending them to prison, We have tried electroshock and lobotomies.

      Our often well intentioned efforts to address serious mental health problems are a littany of examples of cruel and unusual punishment.

      We do not have an answer.

      I understand the appeal of red flag laws – but the evidence already exists – they do not work, and if strongly enforced the unintended consequences are draconian.

      Barring some radical new discovery in the treatment of mental health, there is no answer to this problem.

      Nearly all mass killers suffer from a small number of related mental health problems.
      Yet, there are millions of people with those problems and they do not become mass killers.

      It is hard for the left – and too often even the right to accept – some problems have no solutions – atleast not today.

      There is a name for the beleif humans can solve all problems – Hubris.

      1. Well said. Ben Carson said, “We’ve been conditioned to think, that only politicians can solve our problems. But at some point, maybe we will wake up, and recognize that it was politicians who created our problems.”

        1. A great deal of our problems are caused by politicians.

          But not all.

          Problems like mental health and mass shootings are not caused by politicians.

          At times politicians have made them worse.

          I like to use mental health as an example – because we have tried so many things over more than a century and nothing has really worked.

          There are SOME things that work better than others but there is nothing that works well.

          No one will be happier that I to see a solution to mental health.

          Nor am I opposed to looking for solutions.

          But anyone promising an answer is selling snake oil.

          I would be happy to have a serious discussion with anyone – right or left about mental health issues and/or mass shooting.

          A serious discussion STARTS with accepting that we do not have answers that we KNOW work.
          Playing games with gun laws will accomplish nothing besides limit peoples rights, make them angry and have no effect on mass killings.
          Nor is there some magic want to make mental health issues go away.

          Though California has done an excellent job of enticing most of those with serious mental health problems to come to CA.

    2. We cannot tolerate an attitude of ‘some must die so that others can be free’. Like it or not, privacy laws must capture and preserve contacts with law enforcement and mental health providers from age and date of inception. Youth records should not be sealed. They should be accessible for background checks. Both the Second Amendment and the public good and safety need to be protected. Consensus must be reached as to what criteria constitute a so-called ‘red flag’, which might prohibit an individual from lawfully owning a firearm.

  6. Whenever I read the words, “The media is reporting “, I immediately understand that they are lying.

  7. Gang shooters kill each other, and innocent bystanders, over slights and turf wars. It takes nothing to spark a deadly mass shooting in gang infested areas like Chicago. Dozens of people get shot every weekend in Chicago alone. This idea that white men are especially dangerous is as absurd as claiming that black men are all in gangs.

    From my perspective, the profile of a mass shooter is that they are either fatherless, or have a bad relationship with their father. They are physically weak, powerless, not successful, not popular, and going nowhere. They spend their time playing video games, pretending they’re powerful and feared. They often use avatars that are burly and play fighting games. They have no respect or admiration in real life. In their heads, they begin to equate being feared with respect and power. And who is more feared than a mass shooter?

    Every time there is a mass shooting, their name and face is plastered on all the news. They become famous. They strike terror in the heart of the entire nation. To someone without social skills, maladapted, without purpose or connection to his community, and without a sense of right and wrong, this translates into a figure who’s a bada$$.

    What we as a society fail to communicate in the media and online is that a mass shooting is a cowardly act. It takes a truly gutless wonder to open fire on people guaranteed not to shoot back. These people don’t hadn’t out invitations to SWAT to have a shootout. They catch unarmed families unaware. This is because they’re scared, powerless, frankly worthless scum.

    The media should be blaring wall to wall coverage about how scared and cowardly such people are who commit such acts. They should have a policy not to name them, so as not to make them infamous.

    There have been copycats ever since Columbine. The image of a black garbed, trench coat wearing figure striding with a long gun seems like a video game avatar. It makes them feel scary and strong. We have GOT to take the cache and fame away from mass shooters. The world should mock them.

    Look at this perpetrator. Skinny as a twig. Covered in tattoos, trying to pass himself off as a tough guy. These skinny little wimps get all tatted up like bikers, but no one is going to mistake them for a physical threat. He’s contributed nothing. Not connected to his community. An angry, self-centered, immature, entitled wastrel who circled the drain around dark thoughts.

    ONCE AGAIN, a guy who made disturbing statements was never held for mental evaluation, and so there was no mental health record in NICS to flag a background check.

    There is nothing a background check can do to prevent violent mentally ill or unstable people from legally buying a weapon if they are never put into the system. 3 years ago, the cops took knives and a sword from his home because his realties said he was threatening to kill everyone. However, as no formal complaint was made, he was never arrested.

    There’s talk about disarming law abiding citizens, when crime is so rampant that people are getting pushed in front of subways and stabbed in the back walking into stores. Yet, people who actually do commit mass shootings do not seem to be getting the mental health evaluations or due process that would have prevented them from buying a firearm.

    This guy made such serious threats that cops removed all knives from his home. Yet 3 years passed, without him getting committed.

    The guy posted threatening rap music videos with amateurish cartoons showing him engaging in a mass shooting, yet he was never committed!!!

    Gun laws don’t work to prevent mass shootings if they aren’t followed.

    There were ALREADY laws in place that could have prevented this, yet AGAIN this guy slipped through the cracks. Sometimes the answer isn’t more laws, but applying the ones we already have.

    1. @Karen,

      The FBI considers any shooting where there are 4 or more victims to be a mass shooting.
      There are over 20 of them in Chicago alone.

      Most are committed w a 9mm pistol not a rifle.

      But these do not fit the narrative in that the shooters tend to be black.

      Its the lax enforcement of the law which is causing the high number of shootings.
      Bring back the death penalty in IL.
      Enforce the laws on the books and sentence the shooters to longer sentences and stop plea bargaining the cases.


  8. Cassius Clay was an abolitionist living in Kentucky, at a time when abolition was unpopular. One day, a mob arrived at his newspaper to burn it to the ground. Cassius Clay was inside, with his personal canon pointed at the door. “Who’s first?”

    His paper was not burned that day.

    What a shame that Mohammad Ali did not know the brave abolition roots of his birth name. He thought it was a slave name, so he changed it to Mohammad Ali. Ironically, the Prophet was a notorious slaver, and racist against blacks.

    1. Wait! Did you say Muhammad Ali?

      You cannot mix oil and water, no matter how much unconstitutional, political emulsification you introduce, water and oil will always revert to their natural state of separation.

      “It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature!”

      150 years after “Crazy Abe’s” unconstitutional “Reign of Terror,” and 60 years after LBJ’s War on Poverty (Poverty won) and Great Society (not so great) there is still much adversity, and much latent adversity quietly waiting in the wings.

      “No, No, No…Not God Bless America, God Damn America!”

      – Jeremiah Wright



      In a wide-ranging 1968 interview with Bud Collins, the storied Boston Globe sports reporter, Ali insisted that it was as unnatural to expect blacks and whites to live together as it would be to expect humans to live with wild animals. “I don’t hate rattlesnakes, I don’t hate tigers — I just know I can’t get along with them,” he said. “I don’t want to try to eat with them or sleep with them.”
      Collins asked: “You don’t think that we can ever get along?”

      “I know whites and blacks cannot get along; this is nature,” Ali replied. That was why he liked George Wallace, the segregationist Alabama governor who was then running for president.
      Collins wasn’t sure he’d heard right. “You like George Wallace?”

      “Yes, sir,” said Ali. “I like what he says. He says blacks shouldn’t force themselves in white neighborhoods, and white people shouldn’t have to move out of the neighborhood just because one black comes. Now that makes sense.”

      This was not some inexplicable aberration. It reflected a hateful worldview that Ali, as a devotee of Elijah Muhammad and the segregationist Nation of Islam, espoused for years. At one point, he even appeared before a Ku Klux Klan rally. It was “a heck of a scene,” he later boasted — Clansmen with hoods, a burning cross, “and me on the platform,” preaching strict racial separation. “Black people should marry their own women,” Ali declaimed. “Bluebirds with bluebirds, red birds with red birds, pigeons with pigeons, eagles with eagles. God didn’t make no mistake!”

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