Dozens of mayors from America’s biggest cities are demanding the U.S. Senate pass more gun control. “We write to urge the Senate to pass during the lame duck session gun safety legislation that has passed the House…,” the mayors’ letter states.
An answer to the crime problem plaguing these cities might not be found in Congress. Rather the mayors should look closer to home for solutions. Or better yet, take a good long look in the mirror.
Their First Demand
The letter was sent by The United States Conference of Mayors and was signed by 74 mayors. They made two demands of U.S. Sens. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).
First, they want the Senate to pass S. 736, the Assault Weapons Ban of 2022, which would ban an entire class of firearms – modern sporting rifles (MSRs) — that are commonly-owned and commonly-used. Industry data estimates there are more than 24.4 million in circulation since 1990, with ownership exploding in recent years.
Enacting the ban on MSRs, or the semiautomatic centerfire rifles the mayors misleadingly deem “assault weapons,” would not “in any way infringe on Second Amendment rights,” the mayors suggest. They claim two-thirds of Americans support banning MSRs, but The Reload reported that’s flat false. Less than 50 percent of Americans support such a ban.
That’s likely because more law-abiding Americans than ever before – including women and minorities – have purchased MSRs to use for self-defense, recreational shooting and hunting. In any event, constitutional rights aren’t decided by a popularity contest.
The FBI’s Uniform Crime Report shows more murders were committed by individuals using knives, fists and clubs than by those using any rifle – not just MSRs like AR-15s. The Senate bill would likely not even receive 50 votes, let alone the 60 votes required, as Sens. John Tester (D-Mont.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) have repeatedly voiced opposition.
Their Second Demand
The letter’s second demand is for the Senate to pass a bill enacting a universal background check system to track all firearm transfers, including private ones. The mayors say this constitutes “closing loopholes” and stopping buyers from “circumventing the law.” Those two phrases are oxymorons as the law is the law, as written – there is no loophole or circumvention.
The legislation, S. 529, The Background Check Expansion Act, has severe legal problems as its implementation requires a national firearm registry. That’s specifically prohibited under the 1986 Gun Control Act and the 1993 Brady Act. It’s unlawful because history teaches us that registration is a necessary precursor to confiscation by the government.
The legislation would also, “aid law enforcement’s ability to trace crime guns.” They want to repeal the Tiahrt Amendment which restricts public access to sensitive, law enforcement-only firearm tracing data.
This restriction is supported by Congress, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and law enforcement groups such as the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) because it secures sensitive tracing information which would jeopardize ongoing criminal investigations and put the lives of law enforcement officers, cooperating retailers and witnesses at risk.
They also fail to mention that their own law enforcement agencies have access to trace data for their cities, that they can share data with other agencies and that ATF has joint task forces and regularly share intelligence with state and local law enforcement often derived from examining trace data.
Who Signed the Letter?
The signers are a who’s who of gun control supporters, with one glaring similarity. Democrats make up 92 percent, or 68 of the 74 letter co-signers. The mayors of several of the Top 10 cities which had the most Americans fleeing them in recent years signed, including San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles, Boston, Seattle, Chicago and Detroit. Surging crime and soft-on-criminals policies have been a significant issue in those cities.
New York City Mayor Eric Adams signed. He ran his campaign on getting tough on criminals, but has instead deflected action and pushed for national gun control.
Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler signed the letter. His city descended into chaos and saw a federal courthouse set on fire by rioters. Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell signed too. Criminals in Seattle under previous mayor Jenny Durkan set up a “Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone,” or CHAZ, where law enforcement was prohibited. That’s where “Raz the Warlord” was captured on video handing out AR-15s from his Tesla’s trunk, violating several of Seattle’s existing gun laws.
Chicago’s Lori Lightfoot, also a signer, has been too busy making dance music videos to address the surging crime problem plaguing the Windy City.
San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo already passed gun ownership restrictions on residents even though he admitted to CNN his plans won’t address the crime problem. “Skeptics will say that criminals won’t comply. They’re right,” he said.
Several of the mayors who signed the gun control letter come from Red states where voters have approved constitutional carry laws in the past years and expanded the ability of law-abiding Americans to purchase legal firearms, including MSRs, for self-defense.
What the mayors refuse to accept is that criminals don’t follow their laws. They should focus their efforts closer to home and hold criminals accountable instead of running to Washington, D.C., and passing the buck.
Larry Keane is SVP for Government and Public Affairs, Assistant Secretary and General Counsel of the National Shooting Sports Foundation.