By Veronika Kyrylenko
President Joe Biden on Wednesday unveiled his “comprehensive crime prevention strategy” to “combat an epidemic of gun violence.” The plan will focus on strengthening background checks, banning “assault weapons” and “high-capacity magazines,” and boosting community policing.
The president began his remarks by saying the rise in violent crime dates back to last year, before he took office. “It has spiked since the start of the pandemic over a year ago. Crime historically rises during the summer. And as we emerge from this pandemic with the country opening back up again, the traditional summer spike may even be more pronounced than it usually would be,” he said.
Since the surge in gun violence is believed to be a pandemic-related crisis, that would free up $350 billion in state and local pandemic relief funds approved by Congress earlier this year. The funds, available under the American Rescue Plan, can be used to hire more police officers, pay officers overtime, buy equipment, and fund additional “enforcement efforts.” However, those funds must be used for “community policing strategies” and will be used to bolster police department staffs to pre-pandemic levels.
Community policing is an Obama-era strategy that encourages departments to build relationships between law enforcement and the communities they serve. The rationale is that those relationships establish trust, thereby reducing police brutality and making it easier to solve crimes.
Using pandemic relief money to hire more police officers could touch off criticism by fellow Democrats and “social justice” groups that have almost unanimously supported Biden. Democrats and the “Defund the Police” movement have backed efforts to reduce the size and scope of police officers since the death of George Floyd in police custody in 2020. They also have pushed to shift law-enforcement resources to social programs and replace officers with counselors and social workers.
Biden’s plan also includes adopting a new Justice Department (DOJ) policy that will allow the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) to revoke the federal licenses of gun dealers the first time they violate federal law. Violations could include selling a firearm to a prohibited person, falsifying records, or failing to run a required background check.
As part of the strategy to solve the problem, the DOJ will launch “firearms trafficking strike forces” in the Democrat-controlled cities of Chicago, Washington D.C., Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco, which most affected by the crime surge but already have some of the toughest gun laws in the country. The cities also were ultra-liberal in tolerating last summer’s violent protests, with prosecutors letting those arrested back on the streets, but that was not mentioned by Biden or by Attorney General Merrick Garland.
The DOJ asserted that gun violence has been a major driver of violent crime over the past 18 months, and the strike forces will be “an important step in stemming the supply of illegally trafficked firearms which are used in deadly shootings and other violent crimes.” Not a word has been said about going after criminals who pull the trigger.
“The gun lobby wants you to believe that cities that have the toughest gun laws still have the highest rates of gun violence. Don’t believe it,” Biden said without presenting any evidence, “We’re taking on the bad actors doing bad things to our communities.”
Biden continued his anti-gun pledge by claiming that his administration is “not changing the Constitution, we’re enforcing it” by working to keep firearms that fire dozens of rounds out of Americans’ hands.
“No one needs to have a weapon that can fire over 30, 40, 50, even up to 100 rounds, unless you think the deer are wearing Kevlar vests or something,” he said.
Biden claimed that his plan “doesn’t affect responsible gun owners or 2nd Amendment rights” and that “it helps keep guns out of the hands of people who shouldn’t have them in the first place,” despite Biden and his administration being transparent about their intentions to ban “high-capacity” magazines and ban “assault weapons” such as semiautomatic rifles.
In April, Biden announced multiple executive orders set on combating what he called a “public health crisis” and the “international embarrassment” of gun violence. During his screed against firearms, Biden made multiple false claims about background checks. During his joint address to Congress, Biden also falsely claimed that former President Bill Clinton’s ban on assault weapons contributed to a decline in gun violence and mass shootings.
In his speech, Biden also pushed hiring programs to keep young people busy and off the streets during the summer months, as they’re often both the target and perpetrators of gun violence. Biden said such programs encouraged youth to “pick up a paycheck instead of a pistol.” Predictably, the president did not mention unemployment benefits provided by the government as a major deterrent to people returning to work, especially for entry-level jobs.
Last but not least, Biden’s remarks challenged the Founding Fathers’ beliefs as well as the Democrats’ own January 6 “insurrection” narrative, by arguing armed citizenry would have no hope against an oppressive government.
Presumably referring to the quote by Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence and the third U.S. president, who famously wrote in 1787 that “the tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants,” Biden said, “Those who say the blood of patriots y’know and all the stuff about how we’re going to have to move against the government. Well the tree of liberty is not watered with the blood of patriots.”
“What’s happened is, that there never been, if you wanted, you think you need to have weapons to take on the government, you need F-15s and maybe some nuclear weapons,” Biden continued, botching the Constitution, since people need weapons not to “take on” government, but to protect themselves in the event a government tries taking away its citizens’ rights.
The current president argued that the “Second amendment from the day it was passed limited the type of people who could own a gun and the type of weapon you could own,” such as cannons. The Amendment itself contains no such provision, and merely says that “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
As details of the plan emerged, opponents said Biden was tackling the wrong issues. Among others, the National Rifle Association (NRA) said the Biden initiative was an attempt to distract the public from the true causes of a rise in crime.
“This is a political red herring aimed at hiding the real and abysmal failures of the Biden administration,” NRA spokeswoman Amy Hunter said. “Crime rates are high because of the efforts to defund the police and a failure to prosecute career criminals. The simple fact is strict enforcement of existing laws — including gun laws — coupled with support of law enforcement and prosecutors to do their jobs would result in a dramatic decrease in crime. But, the president would rather play politics than make Americans safer.”