On January 4th, 2016, President Barack Hussein Obama stood in the White House, wiping away tears, and outlined his recommended actions to “reduce gun violence and make our communities safer” in the United States.
According to the White House Fact Sheet, our president, in his infinite wisdom, has recommended the following steps to reduce gun violence across America:
1. Keep guns out of the wrong hands through background checks (for people trying to buy some of the ‘most dangerous’ weapons … through a trust or corporation or for people ‘in the business’ of selling firearms)
2. Focus on “smart and effective” enforcement of our gun laws
3. Increase mental health treatment and reporting to the background check system
4. Shape the future of gun safety technology
Let’s break down these four steps by applying a few facts and a little logic.
First, a few statistics. President Obama suggested that more than 100,000 people were killed as a result of gun violence over the past decade. Fortunately for us, the FBI publishes gun crime statistics every year. As most of our readers know, violent crime, including gun death crimes, has been on a sharp decline since the early 90’s. Although statistics prior to 2006 are no longer available on the FBI website, based on the numbers from 2006-2013, the president’s statement is reasonable.
But the president suggests that we go after the gun owners who have gone to the effort and expense of creating a trust, paying for a $200 tax stamp (per item) and placing themselves squarely in the ATF’s crosshairs … because those silencers, short-barreled rifles and other items that these law-abiding citizens are purchasing are so dangerous!
How many murders were committed with “other guns” (the only category tracked by the FBI that might reasonably correlate to these ‘most dangerous weapons’)? Between 2006 and 2013, a whopping 829 murders were committed with these “most dangerous” weapons – out of a total of 73,959 firearms murders during the same period. That’s 1.12% for those of you keeping score at home.
So … we’re going to reduce gun violence by going after the 1%? I must have missed the statistics class where they taught that you could make the biggest impact by going after the smallest percentage. I smell something fishy.
Now, let’s discuss “smart and effective enforcement of gun laws.”
Although gang-related murders are not tracked as a specific category by the FBI, a number of city police departments do track gang-related murders. Data from a several of our larger cities’ police records suggest that gang and drug-related firearms murders comprise anywhere from 55% to more than 90% of the firearms murders in our cities – which, of course, is where the bulk of firearms murders take place.
It would seem that “smart and effective enforcement of gun laws” would include enforcement targeted at known and suspected gang members with punishments that kept gang and drug-related murderers off the streets forever. It would also seem that the theft of guns and straw purchases of guns would be associated with harsher penalties and longer prison sentences.
Instead, U.S. Attorney, B. Todd Jones admitted, in testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee in 2013, that of 48,321 cases involving straw purchasers (those who knowingly purchase firearms for prevented persons) only 44 were actually prosecuted. Yes, you read that right – only forty-four (44)!
The Obama administration has clearly demonstrated that prosecuting criminals with actual ties to gun violence is not a priority. They would rather go after individuals who conduct a few private gun sales every now and then. They would rather lie about internet gun sales not requiring background checks. (There’s already a federal law on the books that requires a background check for this type of sale.)
That fishy smell … I think it’s a Red Herring.
And, while the Obama administration claims that it doesn’t have the resources to prosecute straw purchasers, they want to “increase mental health treatment and reporting to the background check system.” I wonder what would happen if the proposed $500 million investment in increased access to mental health care was spent on prosecuting and jailing gang bangers and straw purchasers? (Not that we don’t need better mental health care in this country.)
Admittedly, we don’t have all the information on the Social Security Administration rulemaking and Department of Health and Human Services reporting, but on the surface this sounds a lot like violations of HIPAA regulations and trampling of the Fourth Amendment.
Finally, the Obama administration wants to “shape the future of gun safety technology.” When has it ever been a good idea for the government to shape the future of any technology?
The level of intellectual dishonesty and barefaced lying is both shocking and disappointing. What is even more disappointing is the American people’s willingness to believe and embrace these “common sense” distractions. If, as a nation, we really want to reduce gun violence and protect our communities, we need to focus on root causes and major contributors rather than chasing after law-abiding citizens and 1% contributors. If we “must do something,” do something that will have a real impact.