White House Offers States a Blueprint for Gun Control

AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta

If truth-in-labeling laws applied to the federal bureaucracy, Joe Biden’s Office of Gun Violence Prevention would be known for what it really is: the Office of Gun Control Promotion. In the few months that the office has existed, it’s served primarily as a way to put gun control activists on the government payroll, and now we’re starting to see the poisonous fruits of their labors.

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The office and its titular head Kamala Harris has unveiled its “Safer States Initiative”, billed as providing states with “additional tools and the support they need to reduce gun violence and save lives.” In actuality, most of what the initiative entails is promoting the idea of more state-level gun control laws, including gun and magazine bans, “universal” background checks, “red flag” laws, and more. The initiative pays almost no attention to the perpetrators of violent crime beyond a brief reference to improving homicide clearance rates and advocating for community violence intervention programs. I

Instead, the bulk of the recommendations fall under the headings of “Reinforce Responsible Gun Ownership” (by mandating storage requirements and the reporting of lost or stolen firearms) and “Holding the Gun Industry Accountable”; which involves banning so-called assault weapons, large capacity magazines, and “ghost guns” along with imposing state-level licensing, record-keeping, and security requirements for gun dealers. Another way the White House suggests “accountability” for the firearms industry is by enacting laws designed to allow for litigation against the industry and its members that hold them responsible for the actions of criminals.

None of those agenda items are new, of course. The gun control lobby has been pushing most of these policies for decades, though only a handful of states have adopted the kinds of restrictions the White House is pushing on them. And it’s not just the Office of Gun Violence Prevention. The Justice Department is also getting involved in lobbying for more gun control with the release of two new bits of “model legislation”.

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  • Safe Storage Model Legislation. Safe storage saves lives. It is one tool in the toolkit to reduce school shootings, because we know that most often those students who carry out K-12 school shootings are using firearms they obtain from the home of a friend or family member. It is also a critical strategy to reduce suicide by firearms, accidental shootings, and the theft of firearms. The Department of Justice’s model legislation details how states can require the safe storage of firearms, including in vehicles, and hold individuals liable for harm caused by unsecured firearms.
  • Lost and Stolen Firearms Reporting Model Legislation. Reporting of lost and stolen firearms allows law enforcement to investigate and prosecute firearms trafficking. The Department of Justice’s model legislation provides states with a framework for requiring that a person promptly report the loss or theft to law enforcement.

The biggest surprise to me is that there aren’t any recommendations to crack down on concealed carry, either through the application process or laws restricting where gun owners can lawfully carry. Maybe that will come in the new year, but I can’t imagine that the White House will keep quiet about the right to carry between now and Election Day.

Instead of offering up these trite and tired (not to mention unconstitutional) policy suggestions, if the White House is serious about reducing violent crime it should be taking a look at what’s happening in most cities around the country, where homicides are already plummeting. As crime analyst Jeff Asher wrote this week, homicides are down by 12.7 percent in his  Year-to-Date murder dashboard , with almost 75 percent of the more than 175 cities that Asher is tracking reporting fewer murders. Asher says the sample “suggests either the largest or one of the largest national declines in murder on record occurred this year (both in terms of percent and absolute decline”. The fact that this is happening in plenty of cities that don’t have any of the gun control laws the Biden administration wants is an inconvenient truth for the gun-grabbers in the White House, but it’s great news for those of us who are more concerned about preventing violent crime than preventing legal gun ownership or promoting gun control efforts.

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