The mayors of Louisville, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Baltimore are calling on the Biden administration to get to work on its gun control agenda, writing in a new op/ed at CNN that the president shouldn’t wait for Congress and should instead start issuing executive orders dealing with firearms.
Mayors Greg Fischer, Lori Lightfoot, Eric Garcetti, and Brandon Scott all represent cities with sky-high crime rates (though Baltimore’s homicides actually declined slightly in 2020 compared to 2019), but the officials seem to be just as concerned about the growing number of legal gun owners as they are with the rise in violent crime in their cities.
Reducing the harm of the pandemic must also include saving lives from gun violence, and the federal government must work hand in hand with mayors to get it done. Fortunately, there are several ways the new administration can help.To begin, the administration should create a gun violence prevention task force to coordinate efforts across every corner of the administration and every city in the country. We need to re-imagine and invigorate the federal response to gun violence — and that will take an all-hands approach.From there, Biden can sign a series of executive orders to begin the real work of addressing gun violence in our cities. That means immediately prioritizing the existing public safety grant programs that support our community-based violence intervention organizations whose life-saving work has been underfunded during the pandemic.It means stopping the flow of illegal guns into our communities by reforming how guns are sold, publishing data on the sources of guns used in crimes and strengthening the background check system.It means helping provide access to modern technology that will assist in solving gun crimes and providing information about where illegal guns are coming from.And it means getting ahead of one of the fastest growing gun safety issues by eliminating the market for one of the new guns of choice for criminals: ghost guns — untraceable, do-it-yourself weapons that can be sold without a background check, no questions asked.
The bottom line is that these two simultaneous crises —- Covid-19 and gun violence —- have formed a perfect storm in our cities, stretching us to unacceptable limits and leaving far too many people dead or harmed in their wake. Our cities are being tested like no other time in our lifetimes, and frankly, their future and the lives of our constituents depend on what lawmakers at every level of government do next.We’re doing everything we can to address these colliding crises, but we just can’t go it alone. We urgently need congressional action on gun safety, but executive actions — like the ones we outlined — would be a crucial step in the right direction. We look forward to working together — with Democrats, Republicans and independents — to keep our cities safe from gun violence.
It’s telling that these mayors completely ignore their own complicity in the violence that has swept across their cities. The COVID epidemic and the staggering increase in violent crimes are related, but have nothing to do with the record-high number of gun sales to law-abiding citizens. Instead, in each of these cities the COVID pandemic resulted in closed courts and fewer arrests, which in turn emboldened violent criminals, who have good reason to believe that they can get away with their crimes. With homicide and non-fatal shooting clearance rates below 50% in these cities, most of the time the criminals are right; they really can avoid consequences for their violent actions.
The mayors also ignore how the calls to defund or “reimagine” police departments in their cities in the wake of the riots that started last May have impacted violent crime, as well as leading to more Americans embracing their right to own a gun for self-defense.
Executive orders from the Biden administration that infringe on the right to keep and bear arms aren’t the way to make Chicago, Louisville, Los Angeles, or Baltimore safer. The mayors of these cities, along with the Biden administration itself, should be focused on identifying and stopping the most violent offenders, instead of trying to criminalize the Second Amendment rights of American citizens.
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