The senseless homicides of six in Sacramento are tragic. It is a shocking and sober reminder that criminals have no respect for the law or for human life.
That’s why it’s appalling that politicians immediately leaped to calls for more gun control without knowing even the basic facts of what transpired. President Joe Biden and Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom used these senseless murders to call for a bevy of gun control items even before the crime scene was processed.
Gov. Newsom released a statement that read, in part, “The scourge of gun violence continues to be a crisis in our country, and we must resolve to bring an end to this carnage.”
President Biden joined the gun control chorus. He expressed sympathy for the victims of the crimes, but added, “…we must do more than mourn; we must act.”
Police are still hunting suspects – arresting two individuals so far – and they recovered a stolen firearm from the crime scene. That was enough to spur Gov. Newsom and President Biden to rehash their tired gun control wish list.
Crime, unfortunately, is up nationwide. The FBI’s Uniform Crime Report (UCR) showed a 29 percent jump in murders in 2020, the most recent data available. The overall violent crime rate, which includes murder, assault, robbery and rape, rose 5 percent during the same period, according to an NPR report. Homicide rates were up 31 percent in California. Statewide, 1,606 people were killed by guns in 2020, the first year of pandemic lockdowns, the most recent year for which data is available.
President Biden and Gov. Newsom pitch increasing gun control as the answer. Yet, California has the strictest gun control laws in the nation. This latest incident shows that gun control laws aren’t reducing criminal activity or increasing public safety.
A stolen firearm was recovered at the scene. It’s a crime to unlawfully possess a firearm in California. One suspect was arrested a day after the crime and it turned out he was a felon, charged with unlawful firearm possession and assault with a deadly weapon. One suspect was already the subject of a Riverside County warrant issued in 2015 for allegedly inflicting corporal injury on a spouse, according to court records.
The second suspect was also charged with possession of a firearm by a prohibited person and possession of a machine gun. It’s against the law to transfer a firearm without a background check. It’s also against the law to carry a firearm openly in public and firearms can only be carried with a concealed carry permit issued by a county sheriff.
If this firearm was stolen, the criminal illegally carrying it clearly didn’t obey any of those laws. Gun control simply isn’t working. The obvious answer isn’t to double down – unless you are more concerned about politics than you are about real solutions for public safety.
The hard truth is there is more of this political games-playing going on in California and across the nation. Gov. Newsom “reimagined” policing during the wave of “defund the police” calls. He signed legislation in 2021 that adjusted qualified immunity standards for police and created a process to strip police of their badges for misconduct. At the same time, criminals were getting a free pass.
As a result, smash-and-grabs became increasingly common, even in posh communities such as Beverly Hills. District attorneys refused to hold criminals accountable. San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin is facing a forced recall over his city’s out-of-control crime. Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascón is facing his own recall with 200,000 signatures collected for a November ballot possibility.
Prosecutors revolted against District Attorney Gascón after he instituted soft-on-crime policies including ending cash bail, banning prosecutors from appearing at parole hearings and from seeking sentencing enhancements.
Fixing America’s crime wave must start with enforcing the law. Gov. Newsom is calling for more gun control laws, but one article in the wake of Sacramento’s tragedy explained that the governor is running out of scapegoats.
“When it comes to gun laws, California’s legislators have passed some of the most stringent regulations in the country, checking off nearly every box on national gun control advocates’ wishlist,” wrote Dale Kasler of The Sacramento Bee. “California legislators may attempt to pass laws allowing individuals to sue firearm manufacturers and retailers for the criminal misuse of lawfully sold firearms, but such suits would run afoul of the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA).”
President Biden repeated his gun control wish list in his statement following the horrific murders.
“We also continue to call on Congress to act,” he said in his statement. “Ban ghost guns. Require background checks for all gun sales. Ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. Repeal gun manufacturers’ immunity from liability.”
All those, except repealing PLCAA, are already law in California. These were the answers President Biden proposed, yet it’s clearly not working – and he knows it. Their premise is flawed. They’re attempting to control the gun, not the criminal.
That might be because gun control politicians and the groups supporting them always knew their gun control proposals are a house of cards. A recent examination by RAND Corporation of 27,900 gun control research publications found just 123, or 0.4 percent, tested the effects of their gun control proposal rigorously.
“We took a look at the significance of the 123 rigorous empirical studies and what they actually say about the efficacy of gun control laws,” wrote Aaron Brown and Justin Monticello for Reason.com. “The answer: nothing.”
The authors added that the gun control studies aren’t just useless in their data, they can be harmful to law-abiding citizens and those who are subjected to the gun control laws they promote.
“Not only is the social science literature on gun control broadly useless, but it provides endless fodder for advocates who say that ‘studies prove’ that a particular favored policy would have beneficial outcomes,” they wrote. “This matters because gun laws, even if they don’t accomplish their goals, have large costs. They can turn otherwise law-abiding citizens into criminals, they increase prosecutorial power and incarceration, and they exacerbate the racial and socioeconomic inequities in the criminal justice system.”
The reality is that criminals participate in criminal activity. By definition, that’s what they do. Criminals also, by definition, have no respect for the law and, as is becoming increasingly apparent, for life. More gun control laws won’t stop them. Enforcing laws and locking them up does. But I guess that makes too much sense for the Biden and Gavin administrations.
Joe Bartozzi is the President and CEO of the National Shooting Sports Foundation.