Biden’s ‘guns first’ approach to violent crime ignores basic facts

on Feb4
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With violent crime increasing over the last two years, Americans want a solution. But President Joe Biden constantly frames violent crime as only a gun problem. Again, it was the sole focus of Biden’s speech in New York City on Thursday. Even when he mentions police or prosecutors, it was in terms of enforcing gun control laws.

But this “guns first” approach ignores a basic fact – over 92% of violent crimes in America do not involve firearms. And while Biden blames guns for the increase in violent crime, the latest data show that gun crimes fell dramatically.

BIDEN SAYS THE ANSWER ‘IS NOT TO DEFUND THE POLICE,’ BUT TO INVEST IN LAW ENFORCEMENT

Biden’s proposal yesterday to “work to take those shooters off the streets as quickly as possible” is great, but with over 92% of violent crime not involving guns, why not promise to do this for all violent criminals?

The U.S. Department of Justice’s National Crime Victimization Survey, in the latest year available (2020), shows that there were 4,558,150 rapes, robberies, and aggravated assaults, and the FBI reports 21,570 murders. Of those, 350,460 rapes, robberies, and aggravated assaults (see Table 8) and 13,620 murders involved firearms. Adding those numbers up, 7.9% of violent crimes used guns.

Relying on public health researchers, Democrats blame increasing gun sales as the cause. But while violent crime reported to police rose 5% in 2020, you can’t blame that increase on guns because gun crimes actually fell by 27%. The National Crime Victimization Survey also finds a similar 27% drop.

New York City Mayor Eric Adams speaks addresses the press about the scene where NYPD officers were shot while responding to a domestic violence call in the Harlem neighborhood of New York City, U.S., January 21, 2022. 

New York City Mayor Eric Adams speaks addresses the press about the scene where NYPD officers were shot while responding to a domestic violence call in the Harlem neighborhood of New York City, U.S., January 21, 2022. 
( REUTERS/Dieu-Nalio Chery)

All this is consistent with academic research by myself and others showing that criminals are less likely to carry guns when civilians have them for protection. If a criminal pulls out a gun against an armed victim, he is more likely to be shot.

Gun ownership didn’t fuel the increase in crime over the last couple of years. Rather, people worried about violent crime and decided to arm themselves for self-protection.

WHAT BIDEN CAN AND CANNOT DO ABOUT CRIME IN AMERICA’S CITIES

It’s not hard to explain the increased violence. Many urban areas saw more than half of prison inmates released because of the pandemic, and the releases still continue. Newly convicted criminals weren’t going to prison. Nationwide, there were over 340,000 fewer inmates in jails and prisons in 2021 than in 2019. Cities cut police budgets and ordered officers to stand down in many places. New York City cut its police budget by $1 billion.

Prosecutors in many major urban areas have refused to prosecute violent criminals. For example, two rival drug gangs got into a gunfight in Chicago during broad daylight in October. The fight, caught on video, left one shooter dead and two others wounded. Cook County District Attorney Kim Foxx declined to prosecute any gang members, initially explaining they were “mutual combatants.”

Throw in bail reform and some places cutting criminal penalties, and you have a real mess. In Harris County, Texas, criminals released since 2018 on little or no bail (some of them previously charged with murder) have murdered 156 people. In Nevada, Democrat Gov. Steve Sisolak championed a measure gutting the state’s three-strikes law, where criminals convicted of their third felony faced additional prison time. He replaced it with a rule allowing for six or seven felonies before the perpetrator faces additional punishment.

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The most likely victims of these Democrat criminal justice policies are poor Blacks and Hispanics who live in high-crime urban areas. But Democrats want to make crime less risky for criminals to commit, at the same time they want to make it difficult for people, particularly the poor, to own guns for protection.

A robber shot and killed a 19-year-old worker at an East Harlem Burger King early Sunday morning

A robber shot and killed a 19-year-old worker at an East Harlem Burger King early Sunday morning
(Citizens App)

Take Biden’s top proposal during his speech in New York for a “zero tolerance” policy towards what he calls “rogue” gun dealers. No policymaker wants dealers to secretly sell guns to criminals out of the back of their store. But that is not what Biden is going after. Even one mistake in paperwork, no matter how trivial and inconsequential, now means the loss of their license and the end of their business. When Biden talks about 5% of the gun dealers selling 90% of the guns found at crime scenes, he ignores that 5% sell over 90%. He ignores that less than 0.1% of guns are used in a crime in any given year, and that guns are used to stop crime about five times more frequently than they are used to commit it.

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Biden’s policy will put many legitimate gun dealers out of business and make it more costly and difficult for law-abiding citizens to buy guns.

It isn’t rocket science to understand why crime is increasing, and it isn’t the fault of gun owners. Many parts of the country are in dire need of basic law enforcement. But, given how poorly public health researchers have done with their recommendations on the coronavirus over the last couple of years, you would hope people would be skeptical of their advice on guns.

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