Two short blocks away from the historic Independence Hall and revered Liberty Bell in downtown Philadelphia at the old Christ Church Burial Grounds, Ben Franklin is rolling in his grave.
Franklin authored the famous quote, “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”
Tulsa Police Chief Wendall Franklin believes the opposite. In an interview with NPR, Franklin deployed a “Just trust me” gimmick to push for more gun control and uttered, “Ultimately, I’m a Second Amendment guy…But I’m okay giving up some of that freedom, right?”
The problem, as Second Amendment advocates know all too well, is if you give a mouse a cookie, he’ll want a glass of milk.
‘Just Trust Me’
Tulsa, Okla., is rated in the Top 10 of the nation’s most dangerous cities and has a local homicide rate well above the national average. Describing his conversations with Oklahoma state legislators about surging crime, Police Chief Wendall Franklin seemed defeated in trying to solve the problem of violence plaguing law-abiding and innocent Tulsa residents.
“It’s a topic that’s not really brought up a whole lot and it’s something that gets glossed over quite a bit,” he said. “No one really wants to talk about it.”
When pressed about why he previously was okay with state legislators – as the duly-elected representatives of the people – working on firearm-related policy but now is pushing for gun control, the chief deployed a familiar gun control tactic. “Trust me,” he said.
“Ultimately, law enforcement, we are the experts. We’re the subject matter experts at protecting America, right? Protecting our cities. We should be utilized in that manner,” Chief Franklin explained. “Anything that we do, ultimately, we give up something to have that protection.”
The “I’m a gun guy” routine is repeatedly used by some of the most ardent gun control activists as a linguistic tool to dupe others into thinking more restrictions on law-abiding Americans are okay. President Joe Biden often says, “I’m a Second Amendment guy.”
Ryan Busse, a gun control activist employed by Giffords, uses the schtick too. He’s banking on deceiving enough Montanans that he’s still a “gun guy” but supports just enough gun control to win the governor’s mansion from staunch Second Amendment advocate Gov. Greg Gianforte.
Also in Montana, Democratic U.S. Sen. Jon Tester touts his Second Amendment bona fides often. Yet he’s joined with some of the worst gun control senators by voting to keep the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Final Rule in place that unconstitutionally usurps congressional power to rewrite through regulation the National Firearms Act to now define pistols with attached stabilizing arm braces as short-barreled rifles (SBRs), after having initially determined a decade ago they were not rifles.
Burden of Proof
Police Chief Franklin’s gun control dialogue was telling. It once again centered on law-abiding citizens giving up their rights, not criminals committing acts of violence being held to account. He added that it is his belief that law-abiding citizens who may feel threatened or have a completely lawful need to purchase a firearm may need to wait longer to bring their firearm home.
“I’m okay with waiting three days, five days, or whatever to get my firearm if I go out and purchase another firearm. So I’m okay with a pause to allow for weapons to be purchased and allow the government and the gun companies to look at the background and do a thorough check before that gun goes to someone,” he added. He was discussing his belief that there should be more restrictions on law-abiding Americans purchasing modern sporting rifles (MSRs) and unfinished firearm components, a practice gunsmiths have been using since before the founding of the country.
“I think that’s where we are today. We are going to have to give up some things. And I think there are some things that we can give up for a safer community,” the chief concluded.
Law-abiding citizens who lawfully purchase legal firearms at retail already submit to an FBI National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) verification before the transaction can be finalized. They must pass that background check to buy their firearm.
In case the chief was unaware, the overwhelming majority of firearm purchases are completed with little problem. According to NICS data, in 2019, about 90 percent of the tens of millions NICS checks done annually were completed immediately, with just over 10 percent of NICS checks going into “delayed” status. And, about 90 percent of those delayed NICS checks are resolved within the three-business day window as required by the Brady Act and 94 percent are resolved within 10 days.
Only 0.7 percent of 2019 delayed NICS checks were never resolved and only a minuscule 0.01 percent of transferred firearms are referred to ATF for retrieval because the purchaser turned out to be a prohibited person.
Focus on Criminals
While law-abiding citizens continue to be the target of greater gun control pushes, it’s criminals who ignore the laws and do whatever it takes to break the laws in order to illegally obtain firearms.
Government surveys of prison inmates reveal what the firearm industry already knows – criminals rarely obtain their firearms from retailers or even gun shows. In fact, over time, the share of criminals’ firearms that come from retailers has dropped by 10 percentage points. More than 90 percent of criminals obtain their firearms through illicit means and illegally through the black market. Police Chief Franklin’s restrictions wouldn’t impact them at all.
Instead of using hollow “trust me” logic to push more gun control, Police Chief Franklin and those like him would do better focusing on criminals, not law-abiding Tulsa residents.
Larry Keane is SVP for Government and Public Affairs, Assistant Secretary and General Counsel of the National Shooting Sports Foundation.