This past weekend, another 8 people were killed and over 40 wounded in Chicago in shootings, more than the casualties in the West Texas shooting over this weekend. As the Democrats seek a relentless war on guns by focusing on the relatively small number of people killed in mass shootings, Republicans should have a bold counter-agenda to deal with the vast majority of other homicides in this country – committed with handguns or other objects – who are almost always known career criminals. Senate Republicans should counter the coming gun control agenda with a criminal control agenda.
Rather than joining with Democrats to cast a wide net on broad constitutional rights while groping in the darkness to solve the vexing problem of first-time murderers, how about working to deter and punish those who are actually knows to be violent? Also, how about dealing with the ultimate avoidable deaths caused by criminal aliens who would never have been in the country if we actually enforced our immigration laws?
Here are seven ideas that Republicans should push to broaden this discussion over safety and security that will actually deter and prevent murders and mayhem in this country.
Increase mandatory sentencing for gun felons: Rather than violate the Constitution and needlessly strip peaceful citizens of the ability to protect themselves, how about we swiftly punish gun felons? The very same people who push gun control are the ones seeking to avoid locking up gun felons at all costs. What if Republicans brought a bill to the Senate floor to increase mandatory sentencing on gun felons for those engaging in a violent crime with guns or those caught possessing guns after being convicted for aggravated felonies? There are so many stories of violent felons violating their probation by owning firearms, yet they aren’t sent back to prison.
Actually make the mandatory minimums mandatory: Homicide in this country plummeted by over 60 percent precisely over the same period that gun ownership soared. Why? Thanks to Reagan’s Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA), we actually deterred violent criminals with stiff mandatory sentencing. Yet for all the hand-wringing over “draconian” mandatory sentences, they were only mandatory from 1987 to 2005. Following the Booker decision of the Supreme Court, they have just been advisory. This has created a huge amount of disparity in the system, and in recent years, the lack of mandatory sentencing has decreased the successes of the Reagan-era laws. Take bad guys who use guns (or other weapons) off the streets, not guns out of the hands of law-abiding citizens.
Fix court loophole allowing violent felons back on the streets: Four years ago, in Johnson v. U.S, the Supreme Court ruled that the “crime of violence” provision in the ACCA is unconstitutionally vague. That has allowed thousands of the worst career gun felons and other violent individuals to get out of jail early or escape reasonable sentencing to begin with. Just this year, in S. v. Davis, Justice Gorsuch joined with the four liberals in expanding the assault on the ACCA, this time by saying that 924(c)(3), the statute that prohibits using or carrying a firearm during a federal “crime of violence,” is unconstitutional and therefore vetoed out of existence. It is simply astounding that the GOP-controlled Senate has not tried to fix this law, especially in light of Democrats supporting gun control. Now, armed robbers pointing short-barreled shotguns at store clerks avoid tougher sentencing at the same time liberals claim they want to “do something!” about gun violence.
Allow good guys to carry everywhere: While we seek to deter bad guys with guns, why not allow peaceful citizens who undergo a background check and licensing to be able to carry in all 50 states with such a license, just as with driver’s licenses? Republicans in the Senate refuse to go on offense and hold a vote expanding the right to carry universally in all 50 states. Recently, there has been a rash of anti-Semitic attacks on Jews in Brooklyn, NY. Some have been attacked with concrete and rocks, which again demonstrates that violence is not just from guns. Shouldn’t Jews in New York be allowed to carry if they obtain a license from another state? No state has the right to deny an unambiguous constitutional right, and one of the reasons we have a federal government is to protect those rights when states infringe on them. A smart Republican Party would aggressively put Democrats on defense and openly discuss what is happening to Jews in New York as in impetus to flip the tables on the Democrats’ gun agenda and their obsession with white supremacism at the expense of focusing on career criminals of all types.
Fast-track death penalty for mass murderers: While mass murderers with no criminal record account for just a small fraction of murders, roughly 001 percent of the 928,093 homicide victimsfrom 1966 to 2017, they are the most confounding criminal justice problem to solve. The best way to deal with those who have no criminal record is to have the swift deterrent of the death penalty. The problem is that it now takes over 20 years to execute someone, essentially rendering capital punishment worthless as a deterrent. Moreover, as I’ve shown, white supremacist attackers, in particular, don’t seem to kill themselves as they attack, which means they would be more deterred by a swift death penalty. There is news that the Justice Department is working on such legislation. McConnell would be wise to make it a priority and dare Democrats to vote against it.
Why are we keeping other countries’ criminals? The only thing worse than letting career criminals back on the streets is letting other countries’ career criminals remain in the country. Yet thanks to the Dimaya court decision, a number of violent legal immigrants are now shielded from deportation. There are numerous other loopholes and lax enforcement that allow people like Billy Chemirmir, who is now accused of smothering 19 seniors to death with nothing more than a pillow in Texas, to remain in the country.
Declare war on sanctuary cities: Nearly every day at CR, we cover the endless murders, sex assaults, and drunk driving incidents by illegal aliens who are allowed to remain in this country, often after committing other crimes, thanks to sanctuary cities. By definition, these are the most avoidable deaths imaginable. If Democrats are demanding to do something!, we should begin with getting rid of other countries’ criminals by immediately punishing sanctuary cities and by allowing citizens to sue sanctuary officials who release criminal aliens. Congress should also create a fund for victims of illegal aliens out of the money saved from denying grant programs to sanctuaries.
The bottom line is that inanimate objects don’t kill. Bad people kill. Most of the murders every day in places like Chicago are the result of career criminals not being locked up and are committed with handguns or knives, not AR-15s. Even the latest mass shooter in West Texas, Seth Ator, appears to have had a criminal record for which he never went to prison. While Democrats declare war on a handful of rifles in an effort that will not save a single life, Republicans should have a counter-agenda that will focus on the bad people in a way that will absolutely save countless lives. (For more from the author of “7 Ways for Conservatives to Counter Gun Control with Criminal Control” please click HERE)