Psaki: Can't fight crime without more gun control laws

AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

The Biden administration is continuing to push for Congress to enact new gun control laws, including a ban on modern sporting rifles and a repeal of the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, with White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki claiming on Monday that in order for crime to go down more gun control laws are necessary.

A reporter noted that crime, including mass shootings, is rising: “What does the president believe is causing such a callous disregard for human life in this country?” he asked Psaki:

Well, let me first say, and thank you for the question, these shootings are horrific and must stop,” Psaki said:

“Our prayers are with the survivors, those who are lost, and their families. I can’t attribute, obviously, this — this (a shooting in Pittsburgh) just happened over the weekend, the reasoning.

“But what I can tell you is that it’s a reminder of the need to take more steps to stop gun crime, something the president has strongly supported and advocated for since — for decades in public office — cracking down on gun traffickers, putting more cops on the beat, investing in community anti-crime programs. And — and, of course, also confirming a very qualified individual, Steve Dettelbach to — to lead the ATF.

The reporter asked Psaki, “Aside from laws, you know, what does the president have in mind, if anything, a plan to…get people to respect life more, to respect other human beings. Laws aside, you can’t legislate the morality and values and human life. Does he have — does he ever talk about that openly to you or anyone else?”

Psaki responded, “I think every time that you’ve seen the president talk about shootings, the impact on families, on human beings, on loved ones, on communities, he talks about that human impact.

“And — but it also is true that in order to reduce and change the direction of crime and gun crime, which is the majority of crime, we need to change — we need to have more laws in place.”

Is that really true, though? Between 1991 and 2019, violent crime declined by about 50% across the United States; a decline that began before the passage of the Clinton-Biden “assault weapons” ban and the Brady Act, which were the only major pieces of federal gun control legislation that have been implemented in the past 30 years.

Conversely, as we pointed out on Monday’s Cam & Co, violent crime continued to dramatically increase for more than two decades after the passage of the Gun Control Act of 1968, which completely undercuts Psaki’s assertion that more laws are necessary in order to bring down the crime rate.

A more honest and accurate statement from Psaki would have sounded more like, “The president knows that more laws aren’t going to make a difference in terms of the crime rate, but we really need gun control supporters to turn out and vote for Democrats this November, so it’s important for us to pretend that these laws are about public safety and not about trying to energize our base by restricting the right of law-abiding citizens to keep and bear arms.”

We don’t need any new laws to reduce violent crime, especially when those laws are designed to create new, non-violent possessory offenses out of our Second Amendment rights. What’s really needed is more law enforcement, which is something that most Democrats have vocally opposed over the past two years. Now, of course, the Democrats are desperately trying to pivot from “defund the police” to “re-fund the police”, but I don’t think many voters believe that the left is sincere about trying to prosecute and convict more violent offenders.

Want to dramatically reduce violent crime without putting any new laws on the books? Here’s a simple (if not exactly easy) way to do so: clear more non-fatal shootings. When 90% of shooters in major U.S. cities go unprosecuted and unpunished, violent criminals understandably believe that they can get away with their unlawful behavior.

In 2020, the NYPD cleared 47% of the city’s gun murders (136 of 290) and 32% of the city’s nonfatal shooting incidents (402 of 1,251). The notable gap in clearances for fatal and nonfatal shootings seems to be ubiquitous in the cities that have examined this issue. For instance, in Chicago between 2010 and 2016, annual clearance rates for gun homicides ranged from 26% to 46% and from 5% to 11% for nonfatal shootings. In Durham, North Carolina, half of all gun homicides in 2015 resulted in an arrest but only 10% of nonfatal shootings.[4]

All too often, violent gun offenders are not held accountable for their crimes, and justice is denied to victims and their loved ones. Moreover, unsolved shootings feed cycles of urban gun violence. Dangerous people continue shooting others. Gunshot-wound survivors and the friends and families of gun-homicide victims may take the law into their own hands to get justice. Retaliatory shootings beget further retaliatory shootings as each side seeks retribution. In mostly minority neighborhoods long-suffering from gun violence problems, unsolved shootings fuel suspicions that the police don’t care about black and brown victims. Trust in the police erodes, undermining the willingness of community members to share information on suspected shooters.

Unsolved shootings also undermine a key police crime-control mechanism: deterrence. Deterrence theory suggests that crimes can be prevented when a potential offender perceives the costs of committing a crime to outweigh the benefits. The available research suggests that deterrent effects are ultimately determined by offender perceptions of punishment risk and certainty.[5] Police influence offenders’ perception of risk through a variety of means, including increasing their presence in, and arrests of offenders in, high-crime areas. If prospective shooters perceive the risk of apprehension to be low, they will continue to fire their guns in public places.

Americans, by and large, aren’t demanding new gun control laws. They are however, demanding that something be done about the unacceptable rise in violent crime in their communities. Unfortunately for all of us, the Democrats (including those in the White House) are simply more interested in using crime as an excuse to target our Second Amendment rights than the violent criminals who are targeting us.

 

Aug 18, 2022 5:30 PM ET