We all know the Democrats want to impose more gun control upon law-abiding Americans. They no longer hide that fact at all. But not everyone knows the same Democrat party seems less inclined to imprison criminals for illegally possessing guns. And when bad people with guns commit violent crimes and don’t go to jail, they tend to re-offend, over and over again, victimizing still more innocents.
Rafael A. Mangual at City Journal asks a very pointed question. Are Democrats Serious About Gun Crime?
Last month, at John Jay College in New York City, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the state’s new “red flag” gun law, which will make it easier for officials to confiscate guns from people deemed an “extreme risk” to themselves or others. Joining Cuomo was House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who described the law as imperative to “the survival of our children.” Cuomo said that when it comes to gun violence, “something has to be done because we are literally losing human life.” Cuomo and Pelosi invoked mass shootings to explain why the red-flag law is necessary.
Otherwise law-abiding folks who might pose an “extreme risk” aren’t the ones committing the vast majority of crimes and killing people in this country. But we already knew that.
But mass shootings on the order of Sandy Hook and Parkland, while horrible, are not typical of most of America’s gun violence. More often, shootings are committed by individuals already legally prohibited from carrying the firearms they used. Most U.S. shootings resemble what New Yorkers saw in the Bronx last month. On February 22—three days before Cuomo signed the red-flag bill— Edgar Garcia, a 16-year-old gang member, according to the NYPD, opened fire on a crowded street in broad daylight, nearly hitting a little girl. The shooting was caught on video, leading to Garcia’s prompt arrest. A few days later, Garcia posted $10,000 bail; he’s back on the street.
In Florida, back when the Sunshine State had the 10-20-Life sentencing enhancement, Garcia would have had 20 years of hard time added to his sentence. And without probation, parole or early release.
Florida’s gun sentencing enhancement law drove that state’s firearm violent crime rate to its lowest level in history.
And in Florida, people like Garcia, without self-control or inclination to follow the law, spend their time in prison where they can’t hurt law-abiding people just trying to raise their families and live their lives in peace.
Garcia’s case might get transferred to family court, where any sentence is likely to be much less severe, thanks to New York’s Raise the Age law, which Cuomo signed in 2017. Not long after Raise the Age went into effect, 17-year-old Frank Valencia was, per the New York Post, given probation and youthful-offender status in a case “involving his possession of a semi-automatic handgun, 300 rounds of ammunition plus a machete and a set of brass knuckles.” A week after his release, Valencia shot a female police officer in the face, at point-blank range.
Sounds a lot like the case in Chicago this past weekend. A police officer took a gunshot wound (allegedly) from Emily Petronella, 19. The Second City Cop blog reported that police arrested Miss Petronella on a traffic stop because she (allegedly) had a loaded shotgun in her car on February 22nd. But Cook County prosecutors declined to file charges on the felony arrest, so she walked.
Fast forward about two weeks when cops raided her apartment on unrelated drug charges. She fired through the door with another illegally-acquired and -possessed gun, hitting the officer in the shoulder. Cops say they found Petronella, over five kilograms of non-medical marijuana, guns, ammo and more. She’s now finally a guest of the Cook County jail.
…In each of these cases, violent criminals were set free and then went on to commit violent crimes with guns. The legality or illegality of guns was not the issue in any of these crimes, because none of the perpetrators was legally allowed to possess a firearm. The real question is why they were let loose.
In cities across the country, most serious violent crimes—especially gun crimes—are committed by repeat offenders. In Chicago, someone arrested for a homicide or shooting in 2015–2016 had, on average, “nearly 12 prior arrests, with almost 45 percent [of those offenders] having had more than 10 prior arrests,” according to the University of Chicago Crime Lab. In Baltimore, “85 percent of the 118 murder suspects identified by police [in 2017] had prior criminal records,” according to the Baltimore Sun. The Sun also found that “the average homicide suspect . . . had 9 previous arrests on his record” and that “nearly 36 percent were on parole or probation.” A Bureau of Justice Statistics report on violent felons convicted in America’s 75 largest counties between 1990 and 2002 found that “Seventy percent of violent felons had a prior arrest record, and 57 percent had at least one prior arrest for a felony.”
Despite these numbers, liberals and progressives continue to call for more leniency for criminals, which would erode the benefits—above all, incapacitation—that current incarceration practices provide. After every mass shooting, Democratic politicians demonize conservatives for their opposition to gun-control measures. But the Left’s staunch opposition to incapacitating violent and repeat offenders casts doubt on how serious these gun-control advocates are about stopping gun violence.
If countinued, this kind of leniency for criminals will result in crime rates similar to those in the 1970s, back when liberals and progressives last fully implemented soft-on-crime policies.
Folks, it’s just like the sheriff in Kentucky told his constituents: Buy yourself a gun, a dog that barks and bites and lock your doors. Because increasingly, thanks to more lenient criminal justice policies, bad guys who should live in prison are roaming our streets.