As he made the case Thursday for his executive actions on gun control, President Biden emphasized the daily toll of gun violence without acknowledging that the spike in violent crime in major cities has coincided with his party’s push to defund police.
“The idea that we have so many people dying every single day from gun violence in America is a blemish on our character as nation,” the president said.
“Whether Congress acts or not, I’m going to use all the resources at my disposal as president to keep the American people safe from gun violence. But there’s much more that Congress can do to help that effort.”
Homicide data compiled from 19 cities shows a spike in murders immediately after the death of George Floyd last May, confirming analysts who attribute the record homicide rate to the “Minneapolis Effect,” WND reported in February. Manhattan Institute scholar Heather Mac Donald coined the term “Ferguson Effect” in the wake of the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014. As police backed off from discretionary enforcement, an additional 2,000 blacks lost their lives in 2015-16 compared to the previous period. The “Minneapolis Effect,” she said last summer was far worse, making the “Ferguson Effect” looking like “child’s play.”
In the weeks following Floyd’s death on Memorial Day, for example, homicides rose 100% in Minneapolis, 200% in Seattle, 240% in Atlanta and 182% in Chicago. In New York City, shootings more than doubled.
A second national surge began about six days after the June 12 death in Atlanta of Rayshard Brooks, who stole an officer’s tazer and shot at him. A third increase began about a week after the Aug. 23 police shooting of Jacob Blake, who was shot while armed with a knife while resisting officers in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
In Portland, Oregon – where city commissioners voted last June to cut nearly $16 million from the police budget – murders spiked 1,600% in the first two months of 2021 compared to the same time period last year.
Among the programs cut was a specialized unit focused on curbing gun violence, which had been criticized for disproportionately targeting people of color. A month after disbanding the unit, a 27-year-old black man visiting from Sacramento, California, was killed, and critics believe he would be alive if the unit had remained in place.
On Wednesday, the Portland City Council responded to the further rise in gun violence with a $6 million plan. But the Portland Police Bureau won’t get any of that money, Instead, $4 million will go to community outreach groups that already receive city funding, and $1.4 million will go to the city’s Park Ranger Program.
The funds will be used to hire 24 unarmed rangers who will carry only pepper spray and a radio, and are not trained to intervene in conflict. They will have to call the police like anyone else if they encounter trouble they can’t handle.
Today, City Council passed a $6 million plan to stop gun violence in Portland. We're working to keep Portland neighborhoods safe, while also increasing trust and ensuring our public safety and policing practices reflect our community's collective values.https://t.co/W6H8SMuVCH
— Mayor Ted Wheeler (@tedwheeler) April 8, 2021
On Thursday, Biden announced executive actions to curb so-called ghost guns, which are home-assembled firearms that don’t require background checks, and tighten regulations on stabilizing braces, which can turn an AR-style semi automatic pistol into a rifle. The Justice Department also will create a model for states to enact “red flag laws,” which allow judges to seize firearms from people determined to be “dangerous.” The DOJ also will release a report on firearms trafficking, and Biden nominated David Chipman, an adviser to the gun-control group Giffords, to head the ATF, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
“Most people don’t know: If you walk into a store and you buy a gun, you have a background check,” the president said. “But you go to a gun show, you can buy whatever you want and no background check.”
He wants the the Senate to pass a House bill that closes the so-called “gun show loophole.”
— PolitiFact (@PolitiFact) April 8, 2021
But Biden conflated two different legal concepts. Commercial firearm sales, regardless of where they take place, require background checks. Under federal law, private individuals can sell firearms without a background check, but federal prohibitions on certain weapons still apply. And some states require a background check for private sales.
“Joe Biden is either lying, never bought a gun at a gun show, or both,” tweeted Mark Meadows, a former chief of staff for President Trump.
Stephen Gutowski of the Washington Free Beacon, a licensed gun safety instructor, also said Biden’s claim “is completely false.”
“All that matters in terms of background checks is whether you are buying from a licensed dealer or not,” he wrote on Twitter.
At the White House, a RealClearPolitics reporter asked press secretary Jen Psaki if Biden believed that individuals could buy “whatever you want” without a background check, contrary to federal law.
“No, it’s not his belief,” she replied.
The reporter pressed her to elaborate.
“Well, we know what his position is, right? So let me reiterate that, which is that background checks are something that should be universal,” she said.
The President is lying about background checks. His handlers are trying to cover for him.
— Ryan Petty (@rpetty) April 9, 2021
The National Rifle Association challenged Biden’s claim that his proposals are constitutional, contending the “extreme” actions could “require law-abiding citizens to surrender lawful property, and push states to expand gun confiscation orders.”
In the statement, the NRA noted Biden “also nominated a gun control lobbyist to head ATF.”
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy tweeted that Republicans “will strongly oppose and pursue every option — be it legislative or judicial — to protect the right to keep and bear arms.”
On the street
Studies have indicated the so-called “gun show loophole” is seldom used by criminals.
In 2015, Breitbart News reported the result of a University of Chicago Crime Lab study in the Cook County, Illinois, jail system that focused on “inmates who were facing gun charges or whose criminal background involved gun crimes.”
The Crime Lab co-director, Harold Pollack, said “some of the pathways [regarding guns] people are concerned about don’t seem so dominant.”
Very few inmates, he said, indicated using gun shows or the internet. Instead, they obtained their weapons in undetectable ways on the street.