President Joe Biden seems to be following the only mantra he knows when it comes to confronting America’s rising crime worries. Go after the Second Amendment and the firearm industry that makes the exercise of the right possible.
Gang violence? More gun control. Spiraling crime? We must need more gun control. Repeat offenders committing crimes within hours of no-bail release? Gun control.
President Biden’s been straw-man blaming the firearm industry for decades, but he went at it in earnest in 2019 when he declared during the Democratic presidential debates, “Our enemy is the gun manufacturers, not the NRA, the gun manufacturers.”
It’s as if the White House’s crime plan is written on the back of a shampoo bottle.
President Biden’s so confident in this idea, he invited police and city leaders to the White House earlier this week to discuss a “Comprehensive Strategy to Reduce Gun Crimes.”
“While there’s no ‘one-size-fit-all’ approach, we know there are some things that work, and the first of those that work is stemming the flow of firearms used to commit violent crimes,” President Biden said to media gathered at the beginning of the conference. “And it includes cracking down on holding rogue gun dealers accountable for violating the federal law.”
He included additional nebulous and ill-defined agenda items, such as creating strike forces to target illegal gun trafficking, despite the fact they already exist and are perennially underfunded. The president avoided talk of police de-funding and instead pushed plans to siphon recovery funds to fill the gaps where city officials abandoned their own citizens and struggling police departments.
The third part is to rely on “community violence interrupters” without defining who or what that means. Sounds like a new career option for “community organizers.” He’d increase mental health resources and job training. The final part is to give convicts job training.
“And this is going to help prevent crime and support young people to pick up a paycheck instead of a pistol,” President Biden said.
Lather. Rinse. Repeat.
Catching Actual Criminals?
What he didn’t say was how the White House was going to confront criminals who are preying on innocent Americans. Instead, it’s all gun control, all the time. Never the criminal — the actual problem.
Fox News reported the president already launched a “zero tolerance” policy against gun dealers he considers rogue. The president wants to hold firearm retailers that “willfully” transfer a firearm to a prohibited individual accountable.
No one wants firearms in the hands of prohibited individuals. That’s why the firearm industry has several partnership programs with Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) to prevent exactly that under the Real Solutions campaign.
It’s an exceedingly rare exception when a firearm retailer abuses a license and the firearm industry wants them to be held accountable.
The White House, however, gave early clues during the campaign that attacking the industry and not the criminals was their goal. During the campaign, the Biden-Harris ticket embraced a policy of using the ATF as a bludgeon against firearm retailers, threatening to yank licenses of retailers and manufacturers for minor clerical errors. The president’s nomination of the gun control lobbyist David Chipman to run the ATF is installing his man to execute that plan.
The Department of Justice’s own studies show retailers are following the law. The Bureau of Justice Statistics studies show that over 90 percent of convicted criminals that used a firearm in their crime obtain them through illicit means, mostly through theft or the black market.
That’s not a “rogue” retailer issue. That’s a criminal issue.
Americans Embrace Guns
Americans agree. A Washington Post poll found that 59 percent of Americans believe crime is a very serious problem. Meanwhile, support for new gun control laws is cratering to record lows, as Newsweek reported earlier this year.
Americans are acting on those convictions. There were 21 million background checks for the sale of a gun last year. Over 8.4 million people, according to NSSF retailer survey estimates, purchased a gun for the first time.
Gun sales to African-Americans were up 58 percent. Hispanic-Americans bought guns at a 47 percent increased rate and Asian-Americans bought them at a 43 percent rate higher in 2020 than in 2019. Those trends are continuing.
President Biden’s gun control supporters are echoing his myopic distortion of focusing on eliminating gun rights for those who abide by the law. U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) told media, “We have more guns in this nation than anyone who wrote the Second Amendment could ever have envisioned.”
He rattled off falsehoods about gun sales, claiming that guns are sold over the internet, when in fact, all retail firearm sales must be completed in a face-to-face transaction with an FBI National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) verification. In Sen. Durbin’s home state, there are among the strictest gun control laws, but among the highest crime rates.
Sen. Durbin doesn’t have an excess of guns. He’s got an excess of criminals.
That’s exactly what former Detroit Police Chief James Craig has been saying. Law-abiding gun owners aren’t the problem. It’s criminals run amok and no willingness by the federal, state, or local governments, including George Soros-funded District Attorneys, to take on the hard work of reigning them in.
“We don’t have a gun problem in America. What we have is a criminal problem…criminals don’t follow the law,” Craig said according to a Townhall.com report. “They’re going to get guns, so what do we want to focus on? Getting guns from law-abiding citizens?… it’s not about guns, it’s about criminals who have guns and they don’t get the guns legally. That’s the bottom line.”
Craig explained that the failing policies embraced by President Biden including no-bail policies, allowing police to be scapegoated for political ineptness and “de-fund the police” policies are emboldening criminals.
Focusing on gun control instead of arresting criminals won’t clean up America’s crime problem. It’s just lather, rinse, repeat.
Larry Keane is SVP for Government and Public Affairs, Assistant Secretary and General Counsel of the National Shooting Sports Foundation.