The U.S. Conference of Mayors waded into the gun control debate on Tuesday, hosting a virtual press conference with the mayors of Austin, Texas; Savannah, Georgia; Chicago, Illinois; and Cleveland, Ohio demanding that the Biden administration take “immediate action to make their cities safer for their residents.”
Rather than asking the Department of Justice to accept more cases involving violent felons caught illegally possessing guns or offering to work with the DOJ in establishing programs like Project Ceasefire, which has a proven record of success in reducing shootings and homicides, the mayors called for the passage of a pair of background check bills that have stalled in the Senate.
In an accompanying letter signed by several other Democratic mayors, the elected officials expanded on their anti-gun ideas; including praising the recent proposals by the ATF to re-interpret and redefine existing federal law regarding pistols, frames, receivers, and stabilizing braces. Those changes could turn millions of gun owners into criminals simply for maintaining possession of the legally-purchased firearms already under their control, but that’s of no concern to the anti-gun politicians who signed on to the letter.
In addition, the mayors called for a ban on so-called assault weapons, seeking to make it a federal crime to possess the most popular rifle in the United States. Under Joe Biden’s plan, existing owners of AR-15s and other modern sporting rifles would be required to either hand their gun over to the government or register it under the National Firearms Act, while all new sales would be banned. Any gun owner maintaining possession of their rifle without registering it with the government could face a decade in federal prison and a $100,000 fine for each firearm.
While the letter states that “we can’t police our way out of this problem,” the vast majority of what the mayors are demanding involves creating new crimes out of the right to keep and bear arms, which in turn leads to more policing, more arrests, and more incarceration. They’re even calling for undefined “enforcement actions” against social media networks.
Additionally, every day, on social media platforms, illegal gun sales are happening among criminals. Here again, local law enforcement has limited tools to address this significant threat. There needs to be both regulatory and enforcement actions to bring accountability to these social media platforms that often ignore the problem entirely and make it difficult for local law enforcement to stop these illegal sales. The weight of the federal government is needed to elevate this issue and demand a level of accountability that will keep our residents safe.
What’s missing from the letter (and today’s press conference) is the slightest bit of recognition that soft-on-crime policies and efforts to defund local police departments have an impact on violent crime in the cities these mayors represent. Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot always has a lot to say about Indiana’s gun laws, claiming that they’re responsible for driving up the number of shootings in the city, but she didn’t say a word about Chicago’s latest repeat offender.
A man convicted of attempted burglary four years ago who was free on bond in a weapons charge last year has been charged with murder and attempted home invasion in a Humboldt Park killing in December, police said.
Marvin Flanagan was charged with shooting and killing Miguel Perez, 39, while trying to break into Perez’s basement apartment in the 2500 block of West Cortez Street on Dec. 21, according to Cook County Assistant State’s Attorney Kevin Deboni. Judge Mary Marubio ordered Flanagan, 28, be held without bond.
… Flanagan, who has a 2017 attempted burglary conviction, was free on electronic monitoring last year after having been arrested Oct. 7, 2019, on a charge of unlawful use of a weapon by a felon in the 11900 block of South Wentworth Avenue, according to court and police records. He eventually was indicted on charges of being an armed habitual criminal in that case. In October, months before the killing, a warrant was issued for Flanagan’s arrest after he twice missed court dates in the case, according to court records.
Flanagan was back in custody on that warrant by Dec. 24, three days after the killing, according to court and jail records, after he had been released from the hospital.
Since then, he has been indicted on two separate charges of aggravated battery to a law enforcement officer, as well as an escape charge for violating conditions of bail for his armed habitual criminal offense, Deboni said. Flanagan was previously charged with two robberies in 2008, unlawful use of a weapon by a felon in 2013 and an additional attempted burglary in 2017, Deboni said.
This guy was a convicted violent felon when he was arrested for illegally possessing a firearm in October of 2019. Remarkably, he was released on electronic monitoring, which apparently did nothing to help police find him after he failed to show up for not one but two court appearances. In fact, a warrant for his arrest wasn’t even issued until after he skipped out on the second court date.
Leave aside the Second Amendment argument for a second; it’s crazy to believe that more gun control laws are the answer when the criminal justice system can’t even treat armed violent felons seriously. But we can’t also ignore the fact that these mayors are demanding the Biden administration and Congress impose sweeping criminal penalties on responsible gun owners while their own local criminal justice systems are failing to adequately address violent criminals.
The Urban Institute has pointed out that in Chicago, 41% of the homicides in one high-crime neighborhood could be traced to a “social network of less than 4 percent of that community’s population.” A small number of individuals, already well-known to local law enforcement and the communities they live in, are responsible for a disproportionate amount of violent crime, and that’s not unique to Chicago. It’s a commonality of criminal activity in every city across the country, yet these mayors insist that the answer is to impose new criminal penalties on tens of millions of legal gun owners.
The rise in violent crime is real, and it’s serious. The so-called solutions offered by the U.S. Conference of Mayors, on the other hand, are anything but.