Gun control supporter acknowledges Brady Bill didn't work

AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File

Gun control is something that millions of American progressives have pushed for throughout the decades. They want strict regulations on firearms, they say in an effort to curtail criminal access to guns.

Yet since 1934, the federal government has passed multiple bits of legislation in an effort to reduce violent crime.

The last big push was the Brady Bill, which mandated background checks for all firearms sold at gun stores–which accounts for the vast majority, regardless of what some gun control supporters might claim.

The problem is, the Brady Bill didn’t seem to do all that much. That’s something few advocates are willing to admit, but it seems at least one does.

Since the ‘80s I have been regularly writing editorials, columns and news stories about ridding our communities and nation of gun violence. After horrific killings at Columbine, Sandy Hook, Charleston, Parkland, Uvalde and so many more, including the recent shooting death of a police officer in Rochester, N.Y., there seems to be no end in sight to the carnage.

The solution? I’m not so sure anymore. Rather than pushing the same remedies, I’d like to hear from local citizens: What do you think needs to be done? Gainesville, after all, is hardly immune. There was a 14% increase in violent crime locally last year.

As a neophyte editorial writer, I believed gun control measures such as the Brady Law, which required background checks, could at least begin to stem the tide. While it’s true that cracks in the background check system weakened its effectiveness, I can’t help but look back at New York state where I lived for nearly 30 years. There is little evidence that some of the most restrictive gun laws in the country, alone, have been effective.

A mass shooting at a Buffalo supermarket this summer was a stark reminder. And so was the recent killing of veteran Rochester Police Officer Anthony Mazurkiewicz, who was killed after 16 rounds were fired from a Glock 45 9mm handgun into his unmarked patrol car while the officer and his partner were on surveillance. A 21-year-old was charged in the shooting.

Excellent points. The Brady Bill didn’t accomplish much of anything. Neither have most of the other restrictive gun control laws in the nation. The author, James F. Lawrence, is right.

It looks like he’s on the edge of a breakthrough, one that most who work in journalism seem to never make. That’s the breakthrough of recognizing that guns aren’t the problem, that gun control doesn’t accomplish what proponents claim it will.

Unfortunately, that’s not quite the case.

None of this should be construed as recognition of the futility of gun control. Efforts to regulate guns and ensure responsible gun ownership should and must continue. Still, communities and leaders need to be asking, “What are we missing?”

What’s missing, of course, is any effort to curtail crime through other means.

Lawrence goes on to talk about how much higher our firearm-related crime statistics are, but he missed that even if you remove every single so-called gun crime from our statistics, our non-gun crime rates are still higher than other developed nations’ total crime rates.

That tells us the issue isn’t access to guns, but something deeper, more fundamental that has nothing to do with firearms.

Yet why is Lawrence so close to seeing this but so willful in his refusal to do so?

Maybe it’s the fact that he’s in journalism, likely surrounded by others who are vehemently anti-gun, so acknowledging gun control failures without admitting gun control’s futility is as far as he feels he can comfortably go. Maybe it’s subconscious.

I don’t know, but it’s a shame. It’s a shame because I wonder just how many other people are standing on the same precipice and can’t quite take that next step, a step that might allow us to actually start making some meaningful efforts to combat violent crime rates.