There was a time, not long ago, when Democrats hoping to display their “wokeness” on the issue of gun control were wholeheartedly embracing the idea of using police to disarm Americans of their legally owned firearms. “Hell yes, we’re coming for your AR-15s,” shouted Robert Francis “Beto” O’Rourke, as the Left murmured its approval and candidates from Joe Biden to Amy Klobuchar talked about creating new federal felony laws aimed at squarely at law-abiding gun owners.
Michael Bloomberg was jabbed for his comments about using “stop and frisk” policies to throw young men of color “up against the wall” to frisk them for weapons, but no Democrat dared say a bad word about the actual laws enforced through policies like stop-and-frisk. No, the Left was fully on board with an empowered and emboldened State enforcing all kinds of new restrictions on the right to keep and bear arms, right up until the Defund Police movement became the Left’s favorite new cause.
Now, gun control groups are struggling to define their message in a time when many of their allies are now interested in defunding or abolishing the law enforcement agencies that are tasked with enforcing the gun control laws demanded by gun control sugar daddy Michael Bloomberg and anti-gun activists. Take the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, for example:
This should be met with the same vigor by gun violence prevention activists as universal background checks or any gvp policy.
We cannot address daily gun violence in impacted communities without trust between law enforcement & the community. That begins with accountability. pic.twitter.com/w23K5NEfRT
— Coalition to Stop Gun Violence (@CSGV) June 10, 2020
Unfortunately, policies pushed by the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence exacerbate the tensions between police and communities of color. As Emily Bazelon of Slate pointed out last year, a majority of defendants in Brooklyn’s gun court are young black and brown men without any serious criminal history, who are facing years in prison for simply possessing a gun without a license. That’s not even a crime in many states, and it’s a misdemeanor in many others. In New York, however, it’s a felony sentence, and that’s the way CSGV, Moms Demand Action, Everytown for Gun Safety, Brady, Giffords, and the other anti-gun groups want it.
Gun control groups are also uniformly in favor of “good cause” requirements for a concealed carry license, and support broad discretionary authority for police to deny carry licenses to as many individuals as possible. If policing is an inherently racist institution, then what does it say about gun control groups that they want to empower the police to decide which members of the community get to exercise their Second Amendment rights?
For years they’ve been actively pushing for policies that disproportionately put young black men in prison for non-violent crimes, but only recently have they started claiming that police reform is needed. Why? In part, it’s because support for the idea of reform is broad and popular, particularly among the Left, and some in the movement may truly believe, as CSGV so eloquently stated, that there’s a need for more trust between police and the communities they serve. Unfortunately, one of the biggest reasons why they believe that trust is needed is so that cops can more effectively enforce the gun control laws that put young black men in prison for non-violent crimes.
Bloomberg’s Everytown for Gun Safety has also come out in favor of the Democrats’ Justice In Policing Act, while steadfastly refusing to consider the role that gun control has played in abuses by some police officers.
Representative Jayapal is right: we have to do the work. Send a message to your rep and tell them to pass the #JusticeInPolicing Act, #HR7120: https://t.co/biHrgAcPW0 https://t.co/7GpFMp1Dmv
— Everytown (@Everytown) June 10, 2020
The hypocrisy is staggering. Make no mistake, gun control advocates and their policies are at odds with the defund police movement, and strategists and spin doctors are furiously working to try and find a position for anti-gun activists that will allow them to deflect attention away from the inherent contradiction among the Left at the moment: a desire to dramatically reduce the presence of law enforcement in communities of color, while also advocating for sweeping gun and magazine bans, gun licensing laws, and other restrictions on the right to keep and bear arms that require an armed police force to enforce at the local, state, and federal level.
The gun control movement is inherently about empowering the police, not defunding or abolishing departments. It is fundamentally at odds with the Black Lives Matter movement, Antifa (many of whom embrace their own right to keep and bear arms for revolutionary aims), and other organizations on the Left that are advocating for fewer police officers on the streets and in their neighborhoods. If Democrats are serious about reforming the criminal justice system, they need to take a hard look at the gun control policies they’ve embraced over the past few decades, the large role that they have played in incarcerating young men of color for victimless crimes, and the billionaire backer who’s eager to spend millions supporting politicians who’ll continue to promote his anti-gun and anti-equality agenda.