Naturally, gun control advocates are taking advantage of the ongoing pandemic and the current protests to call for more of their pet priorities. We know that none of these will help prevent crime. The prescriptions needed for real reform to address the underlying social problems aren’t found in public health journals. They are found in criminal justice research.
For the past year, following President Donald Trump’s signing of the FIRST STEP Act, a criminal justice reform law, a diverse task force, led by former Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal, has been hard at work examining evidence-based actions the federal government can take to advance reform.
The Council on Criminal Justice has just released an Independent Task Force Report called, “Next Steps: An Agenda for Federal Action on Safety and Justice.” This report includes 15 top recommendations for federal action on criminal justice. A far cry from the ineffective wish list of gun control activists, the bold recommendations span everything from streamlining the criminal code to expanding education in prisons and targeting high-violence cities with evidence-based strategies.
As the firearm and ammunition industry, we aren’t experts in reforming the criminal justice system. But we support the efforts of this task force and other groups that put forward evidence-based recommendations, not politically motivated proposals that would do nothing to address the deep-rooted problems in our society.
What we can do is to continue our efforts to promote Real Solutions. Rather than focusing on sound bites and political divisions, we’ve taken the lead in getting our FixNICS program signed into law in Congress and 16 states, increasing the disqualifying background checks from 1.7 million to 5.3 million since 2012, a 220-percent increase. It is the firearms industry that leads with Project ChildSafe, passing out 38 million free gun locks.
We’ve partnered with the largest suicide prevention group in the country to provide gun ranges and retailers the resources to intervene before a moment of crisis. We’ve led on preventing straw purchases with our Don’t Lie for the Other Guy campaign.
We do this because we are committed to ensuring guns remain out of the hands of those who shouldn’t possess them. Blaming guns for the senseless actions of criminals is counterproductive. We know the answers require much more. This is hard work. It takes committed leadership. We’re not afraid of the challenge and invite any of those who genuinely want to work toward answers that will save lives and respect the rights to join us.
Elizabeth McGuigan is Director of Legislative and Policy Research at the National Shooting Sports Foundation.