MARK KIESLING: Anti-gun crusader trotted into court

2012-12-09T00:00:00Z 2012-12-20T21:25:34Z MARK KIESLING: Anti-gun crusader trotted into court nwitimes.com
December 09, 2012 12:00 am

Anti-gun crusader Donne Trotter has a little 'splaining to do, Lucy.

Trotter, 62, a state senator from Chicago and one of the front-runners to replace Jesse Jackson Jr. in the 2nd Congressional District, was busted Wednesday trying to board an aircraft at O'Hare International Airport with a handgun in his garment bag.

Trotter is running for a U.S. House seat closely connected with the U.S. Senate seat vacated by President Barack Obama four years ago.

Gov. Rod Blagojevich went to prison for trying to sell the Senate vacancy. Jackson was allegedly one of five bidders, but never charged with anything.

Jackson, who was re-elected to the U.S. House, last month stepped down amid medical problems and ethical questions.

So here comes Trotter, a retired public health administrator for the Cook County Health Care System. He'd run for the House in 2000, against Obama and U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Chicago, who won. After redistricting, Rush is now in the 1st Congressional District.

During his first term in the Illinois House, Trotter's first bill was to tackle assault weapons.

"As an advocate of gun control, in his first term as a state representative Donne E. Trotter ushered in Illinois' first comprehensive ban on assault weapons," according to the Illinois Department of Public Health's Health Care Justice Act.

Yeah, but that was no assault weapon Trotter was allegedly packing when he tried to board the plane but was stopped by Transportation Safety Administration officials.

He was carrying, according to accounts of the arrest, a .25-caliber Beretta. Although it was unloaded, it was accompanied by a clip with a full six rounds.

Ah, but there's more. Trotter did not stop with assault weapons, but he also carried the torch and pichtfork against handguns.

"Those were times when gun control was a dirty word," said Chris Boyster of the Illinois Coalition Against Handgun Violence in a March 2000 article in The Chicago Reader.

"I guess he was a crusader at that time of day." Must have been a different time of day when he was boarding the plane Wednesday.

The anti-handgun crusader is charged with an "attempt to board an aircraft with a weapon." He is free on $2,500, the required 10 percent of the original $25,000 bond.

He has allegedly said he uses the gun in his job as a security guard, although a .25-caliber Beretta would be the weapon of choice for few guards.

It's a Class 4 felony, which upon conviction could get him one to three years in a federal pokey. Being the lowest class of felony, it probably won't, though.

But unlike would-be candidate Mel Reynolds, who had his felony conviction pardoned by President Bill Clinton, Trotter has no such godfather in the White House.

The Reader article said Trotter and Obama "loathe" each other, going back to their days as freshman legislators in Springfield.

Be nice to people on the way up. You might need a presidential pardon on the way down.

The opinions are solely those of the writer. He can be reached at mark.kiesling@nwi.com or (219) 933-4170.

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