President Joe Biden took to the podium last week to address the crime surge plaguing the country in several large metropolitan centers that just so happen to also be Democratic-run with strict gun control laws in place. Instead of proposing real solutions to address the criminal violence by lawbreakers, the president regurgitated false claims about the firearm industry and the criminal misuse of guns.
For the millions of Americans who legally exercise their Second Amendment rights, including more than 8.4 million first-time gun buyers in 2020, watching the president’s comments was déjà vu all over again.
A White Whale Gun Control Wishlist
Pres. Biden continues to push an ambitious gun control agenda while Americans are recognizing the critical importance of the Second Amendment. Crime is spiking across the country as last year saw the height of the coronavirus pandemic and economic uncertainty, community lockdowns and rioting and violent looting that destroyed businesses and livelihoods.
This all happened while calls to “defund the police” reverberated in these same cities, a side effect of which has been an increase in police retirements. With limited police and fewer options for community safety, Americans unsurprisingly turned to purchasing their own firearms.
The president painted broad strokes. “We discussed a comprehensive strategy that I’m releasing today to combat the epidemic of gun violence and other violent crime that we’ve been seeing in our country for far too long, that has spiked since the start of the pandemic over a year ago.”
He may have forgotten, but then-Vice President Biden and President Barack Obama held the levers of power with a Democrat-controlled U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives from 2009-2011. Their continued narratives about the “the gun lobby” and “gun industry” stifling real solutions falls flat.
Instead, the president offered only retreads of his tired gun control policies. These included expanding background checks leading to a national gun ownership registry, implementing red flag laws without adequate due process and Second Amendment protections, banning the most popular rifle, mandating unproven “smart gun” technology and calling for the U.S. Senate to confirm unqualified paid gun control advocate David Chipman to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), whom the president claims is ‘eminently qualified’ to lead the agency.
It was his next proposal that was somewhat surprising. President Biden again called for “a repeal on liability protections for gun manufacturers.” He means repealing the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA), bipartisan legislation passed in 2005 to protect members of the firearm industry from a tidal wave of baseless lawsuits brought against them for the criminal use of legal products lawfully sold.
NEW: President Biden says getting Congress to end immunity that gun makers have from being sued for shooting incidents is a top priority.
“Most people don’t realize: the only industry in America…that can’t be sued…are gun manufacturers.”https://t.co/mpoBwuDoyd
— CNBC Now (@CNBCnow) April 8, 2021
When the president made the same announcement two months ago from the Rose Garden, claiming the firearm industry enjoyed “blanket immunity,” media outlets ranging from the Washington Post, to Politifact and even CNN called his claims false.
Perception vs. Reality
While announcing his new restrictions and crackdowns on law-abiding gun ownership, the president said, “These types of reforms have overwhelming support from the American people, including gun owners.” He continued, “The last time we had data on who is purchasing guns was 20 years ago.”
Those are both patently false statements. Polling from Gallup, to Washington Post/Ipsos to USA Today and others show a dramatic decrease in support for more gun control to the lowest levels in years. And as to who’s legally buying guns? We know 8.4 million Americans did so for the first time in 2020.
.@POTUS gets another FALSE rating, again He often makes false statements abt #2A and guns while he pushing his gun control agenda RT PolitiFact | Joe Biden gets history wrong on the Second Amendment limiting gun ownership @NSSF https://t.co/XJ3P1Ezhlt
— Larry Keane (@lkeane) June 28, 2021
Forty percent of the more than 23 million purchases last year went to women. African-Americans bought 58 percent more firearms than they did the year before. Asian-Americans did so at a 43 percent higher clip. Hispanic-Americans did as well by 40 percent. The firearm industry tracks this data each year, not relying on two-decade old statistics.
In introducing President Biden, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland prefaced the “gun violence” announcement by saying they are pursuing “evidence-based” programs to solve the problem.
The firearm industry agrees but has implemented Real Solutions with a track record of successes that should be replicated. The NSSF-led FixNICS campaign has resulted in 16 states and the federal government to better coordinate with federal agencies and greatly increase the number of prohibitive and adjudicated mental health records in the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), ensuring firearms stay out of the hands of those who cannot purchase them legally.
Don’t Lie for the Other Guy educates community firearm retailers to reduce illegal “straw purchases” and Operation Secure Store assists these retailers to identify vulnerabilities and to better secure their inventory to prevent firearm thefts. Project ChildSafe has partnered with more than 15,000 local law enforcement agencies to provide more than 40 million free firearm safety kits, including trigger cable locks, to reduce unintentional home firearm accidents.
These efforts, as well as partnerships with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, have led to the lowest number of unintentional firearm deaths in more than 100 years, since data was first collected in 1903.
These are praise-worthy initiatives. Sadly, the president chooses to push unserious solutions to the very serious problems of community firearm violence by criminals so common across the country today.
Larry Keane is SVP for Government and Public Affairs, Assistant Secretary and General Counsel of the National Shooting Sports Foundation.