This information provided by The Federal Observer, http://www.federalobserver.com
By Steve Stanek
SKOKIE, IL - Is Roderick Pritchett being persecuted because he legally owned a gun or prosecuted for violating state laws regarding the transportation of firearms?
A Cook County jury will have to decide when Pritchett goes on trial Sept. 15 in Skokie. He was charged with felony unlawful use of a weapon in November 2002 after Chicago police stopped him for driving a vehicle with a burned-out taillight.
Pritchett's prosecution is a clear attack on legal gun owners, according to John Birch, president of Oak Brook-based Concealed Carry, Inc., a gun-rights group he founded six years ago.
"If Roderick is convicted, it means don't bring a gun into Cook County, period," said Birch, who hopes to pack room 108 of the Skokie courthouse with supporters of Pritchett. "We have to show police and prosecutors that we are not going to put up with being prosecuted simply for transporting our guns to or from the shooting range."
However, Cook County prosecutors say Pritchett violated state law against transporting a loaded firearm.
On these facts, police and Pritchett agree:
Pritchett was driving through Chicago Nov. 20, 2002 when police stopped him for a routine traffic violation.
Pritchett voluntarily told the officers he had a valid Illinois Firearm Owners Identification card and a handgun in the car which he had used earlier in the day for target practice at a Harvey shooting range.
On these facts, Pritchett and police disagree:
Pritchett says his gun was unloaded and in a case. Police say the gun was loaded and was not cased.
Pritchett says a passenger was in the car with him but ordered by police to walk home. That witness, according to Pritchett's attorney, can back up Pritchett's claims. Police say there was no passenger.
"He could have easily taken a lesser charge, but he's firm about the fact he violated no law," said Pritchett's attorney, Walter Maksym. "He was familiar with the state police website and had read brochures on know your gun rights."
Pritchett was running errands for his mother, who lives in a crime-ridden section of Chicago, when he was stopped. Maksym said one of the reasons Pritchett decided to learn to use a gun was for protection. Pritchett is black, his fiance is white, and they have been threatened.
"When he would visit his mother's home in Chicago, these hood guys would harass him, threaten him. They had guns," Maksym said. "So here's a guy who has a gun legitimately, who has a valid state firearm owners card, had the gun in a case, unloaded, volunteered information to the officers and he's charged."
Jerry Lawrence, a spokesman for State's Attorney Dick Devine's office, said the police report states that Pritchett admitted the gun was loaded and that it was found stuffed between the driver and passenger seats.
"They found nine live rounds in it," Lawrence said. "It was a semi-auto pistol and he admitted it was his."
Maksym said the case will come down to Pritchett's word against the word of the police officers and pointed out that the case was moved from a Chicago court, where there likely would have been a big pool of black jurors, to the Skokie court, where there is a more liberal anti-gun white jury pool.
"They did that with no motion and without notifying me beforehand," Maksym said. "The state's attorney is coming down on him like no tomorrow. It's the hyperparanoia of Chicago's anti-gun culture that is coming down on him."
To read a full account of Pritchett's predicament, in his own words, and the efforts to support him, log on to the Concealed Carry, Inc. website. [http://www.concealcarry.org]
September 02, 2003
About the Author
Steve Stanek is a free lance writer who has written for several mainstream news sources over the last ten years. Illinois Leader is pleased to add Mr. Stanek to our list of contributors. (He is not related to fellow Illinois Leader writer and operations manager Jill Stanek.) Send the author an email with your comments to
For another look at the concealed carry issue, we invite you to visit the archives of The Federal Observer and read BINGO!: The Case for Concealed Carry.
Source: The Illinois Leader