Kadner: State Sen. Donne Trotter’s just a dumb gun-toting guy
By Phil Kadner firstname.lastname@example.org December 6, 2012 5:52PM
State Sen. Donne Trotter leaves after posting bond at the Cook County Criminal Courts Building in Chicago, Ill., on Thursday, December 6, 2012. | Andrew A. Nelles~Sun-Times Media
Updated: January 8, 2013 6:24AM
Donne Trotter’s defense for attempting to bring a loaded gun onto a plane seems to be that he was just plain stupid.
Neither that nor the fact the state senator is facing felony charges prohibits him from running for Congress.
An argument could be made that in the 2nd Congressional District (and Illinois politics in general), being dumb and charged with criminal conduct are an advantage at the polling place.
Trotter looked small and subdued as he appeared Thursday in the Cook County Criminal Courts Building at 26th Street and California Avenue in Chicago.
An assistant state’s attorney told the judge Trotter was arrested when an X-ray scan revealed a handgun (a .25-caliber Beretta with six live rounds) in the senator’s garment bag as he was trying to catch a United flight at O’Hare International Airport on Wednesday morning.
Trotter told police he had gotten off work as a security guard about midnight Tuesday and forgot he had the weapon as he packed for the airport about 4:30 a.m.
I don’t think anyone believes Trotter was actually hoping to sneak the gun passed airport security.
But none of the veteran political reporters I spoke with was aware that Trotter had to moonlight as
a security guard to make ends meet.
The weapon he was carrying is certainly not a standard-issue type of handgun for security guards, who normally are required to carry 9 mm or .40-caliber semiautomatics that have more stopping power.
“It’s just a crap gun,” said Sean Morrison, the head of Morrison Security Inc., in Alsip.
Actually, it’s a very small gun, the sort someone might carry in an ankle holster or hidden under his suit coat.
A concealed-carry type weapon is how weapons enthusiasts refer to it, although concealed carry is against the law in Illinois.
Trotter refused to answer questions about why he was working as a security guard or how he came to select his Beretta.
“Not now, not today,” is all Trotter would say as reporters chased him out of the court building, down the front steps and into a waiting Ford Focus with “War Hero” on the license plate after he posted $2,500 cash on a $25,000 bail.
“Given the record of 2nd District congressmen for unethical conduct, don’t you think you owe voters an explanation?” I shouted.
Trotter glared at me but said nothing.
Former U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. won more than 70 percent of the vote while he was under FBI investigation for possibly illegally spending campaign cash and he never felt the need to address the public either.
Trotter’s lawyer told the judge his client has spent 24 years as a state representative and senator, has been married for 26 years, has four children and six grandchildren and therefore should be granted special consideration when it came to setting bail.
The judge agreed.
I don’t consider Trotter a flight risk, although the thought of him someday sitting in Washington, D.C., does make me feel slightly uneasy.
Trotter, in fact, was trying to board a flight to Washington when he was arrested.
He now faces felony charges, and while some contend trying to board a flight with a loaded gun is pretty serious stuff these days, I would be surprised if the senator got off with anything more than a slap on the wrist.
In fact, it seemed like such a great example of accidental stupidity, I was surprised when Trotter refused to face the TV cameras and say as much.
“It was a dumb thing to do, I apologize. If everyone who has done something stupid supports me on Election Day, I will win that 2nd Congressional seat by a landslide.”
That’s all he had to say.
But I’m guessing his lawyer, Joshua Herman, of Durkin & Roberts, told him to keep his mouth shut.
Of course, there are other questions that beg asking as a result of Trotter’s problems.
How many other candidates in the 2nd Congressional District race own handguns?
How many other state legislators are working nights to make ends meet?
Is there anyone in public life in this state who would contend a felony charge is a problem for a candidate?
By the way, according to the Chicago Police Department, while Trotter did have a firearm owners identification card, required by state law, and a permanent employee registration card, required to work as a security guard or private detective, he did not register his handgun in Chicago.
“Even police officers who live in Chicago are required to register their guns,” a spokesman for the Chicago Police Department said.
“Anyone who lives in the city and owns a gun is required to register that gun.”
Another case of stupidity? Another oversight?
Or are these a series of deliberate actions designed to convince 2nd District voters that Trotter is the obvious choice to fill the shoes of Jackson and his predecessor in Congress, felon Mel Reynolds?
All I know is that Thornton Township Democratic committeeman Frank Zuccarelli has refused to back away from his endorsement of Trotter for Congress, and Zuccarelli knows his constituents as well as anyone.
Trotter, 62, normally is a dapper guy known for his neatly trimmed goatee, bow ties and thoughtful answers to questions.
This incident has got to enhance his street cred.
At the very least, Trotter has to be the frontrunner for the NRA’s endorsement in the congressional race.
He’s dumb and likes guns.