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Best thing about big cities are songs written about them

In spite of the images you might conjure up in your mind, Chicago wasn't a bad place to grow up. We knew our neighbors and interacted with them. Our local city park hosted Little League and Babe Ruth League baseball teams where we had good volunteer coaches, neat uniforms and parents who pretty much behaved themselves at the games. I attended great schools, and the neighborhood held together until racial conflict turned it into a war zone in the late 1950s.

I'll never forget the spring smelt fishing on the Lake Michigan waterfront. We had an L-shaped tubular frame with a winch, cable, pulley and net. Dad set the frame into a hole in the concrete. With the winch, we lowered the net into the water, waited 30 seconds and cranked up the net. With a long-handled dip net, we scooped the smelt from the larger net and filled the back seat of the car with smelt all the way up to the top of the front seat backrest. We also filled the trunk with smelt.

Don't worry about the old Hudson. Smelt don't smell fishy. They smell like watermelon. When we got home around 2 a.m., the neighbors would be waiting. We would clean the smelt right there in our driveway with scissors in hand, and neighbors would take as many as they could clean. Grilling them on the lakefront as we caught them was also popular.

On Sundays after church, we could count on some sort of adventure. Mom and Dad were big on museums, the planetarium, the aquarium or a ball game in season. A seat in the Wrigley Field bleachers cost 50 cents back then. Sometimes it was an afternoon and evening at Grandma's.

As a kid I didn't pay much attention to Chicago politics, but Illinois was already corrupt, and Mayor Richard J. Dailey's political machine had its roots in what we became familiar with in Upton Sinclair's "The Jungle." It's a must read for a person who calls him/herself educated.

I write about Chicago today because I care about our Second Amendment rights. Chicago is messing with them, and I once saved my life and the life of a female companion with the Smith & Wesson .357 mag I had tucked under my car seat. More important, I care about the youth who are murdering each other.

There are some interesting if not shocking statistics about Chicago in the May 27 edition of the Chicago Sun-Times. We find the article "Rahm's plan for city gun shops: Limit locations, videotape sales." The article claims the Chicago murder rate for crimes involving guns is 13.4 per 100,000 people. The Los Angeles rate is 5.9, and the New York City rate is 3.8. Chicago, with the nation's strictest gun control, has the highest murder rate. This tells us all we need to know about gun control.

In Chicago, gun shops were banned until a federal judge ruled in January that Chicago's gun store ban was unconstitutional. This supposedly opened the door for "would-be" Chicago gun shop businesses. Mayor Rahm Emanuel immediately did everything possible to circumvent the new ruling ... as if the gun shop ban in place was working.

While I don't fully comprehend all the reasons for a murder rate that is obviously out of control, it is my understanding that the vast majority of the murders relate to black gang members killing black gang members. Too many Chicagoans outside of the gangland loop don't care.

I'll get more specific about their attitude. Let the black gangbangers kill each other. They're solving the problem, and hoping all of them die. Racism is a part of this attitude, but so is a fear of gangs and a hatred for illicit drugs and the people who use them. Two things are for certain: This attitude cannot be tolerated, and gun control is not going to solve the problem.

To me, the solution will include, but is not limited to, responsible parenting, as in the word "accountability." Education is also a huge factor. I also feel that our welfare system, already generations old, is a breeding ground for continued chaos. It promotes kids having kids. What chance do they have?

Getting back to Rahm's counter maneuvers, people buying guns legally and then selling them to criminals is a problem according to the newspaper report. Rahm would like to counter this by limiting legal handgun sales to one gun per month. Rahm also feels that videotaping gun transactions will slow down the trafficking. Rahm plans to limit gun store numbers and control where the gun stores will be located. For the sake of the young people dying on Chicago's streets, I hope Chicago leadership will get serious about solutions that will work.

Some good things are happening in Chicago's neighborhoods. Many of Chicago's millionaire athletes are establishing foundations that support education and provide an atmosphere for healthy athletic competition. Catholic schools are providing an academic setting for the young people who are fortunate enough to have a parent who realizes the importance of a solid education.

Google Chicago's St. Margaret of Scotland School at 9800 South Throop. That's where I went to school. It was great, and it's still great.

See you next week when we go to the mighty Amazon.