(Originally published June 10, 2022)
The NICS background check system went live in 1998. Firearms related homicide and “mass shootings” have been on the rise ever since.
Kevin D. Williamson at National Review points out here and here that existing federal firearms laws are not being enforced. As Williamson states, and I can attest, he has been saying this for years – and years. In the second article linked, Williamson refers to a GAO audit from 2017. Here is a snippet from that GAO audit:
In 2017 there were 112,000 denials resulting in 12,710 investigations (every denial is a potential felony). Those 12,710 investigations resulted in 12 prosecutions. That’s right, 12. A prohibited person trying to buy a firearm is a felony. Lying on the NICS paperwork is a felony. What do you think dear reader, is the government enforcing existing firearms laws? According to the GAO, the answer is “no.” How exactly will new laws work if this is how we enforce existing laws?
From one of my recent articles:
“TIME lays out some numbers on mass shootings since 1982 here. I plugged the data from that article into this chart.”
I annotated the chart to note the point at which the NICS background check system went into effect:
Does it appear that a set of unenforced federal firearms laws have had the impact we want? Are we now clamoring for more of this?
Many (myself included) compare firearms issues to drunk driving. We don’t try to ban cars or booze; we blame the drunk driver. Likewise, I blame the shooter. But I think it’s useful to look at what has been done in response to drunk driving. We made the penalties more severe, and we increased enforcement. Significantly, neither of those measures have any impact whatsoever on people that do not drink and drive. For that reason, consensus was achieved, and laws and policies were put in place.
The current clamor does almost nothing to impact criminals and significantly impacts law-abiding citizens. Not a good way to go about achieving consensus.
But when it comes to criminal behavior, it seems we can not agree. Recently the state of Washington passed laws restricting police. Both houses of the legislature as well as the executive branch were controlled by Democrats. Some readers on the left objected to my characterizing their side as wanting to “defund the police” in a recent article. Well, I’m sorry but I heard that phrase straight from the mouths of the left. Granted, some want to walk it back now (so it appears anyway).
I’m not a lawyer or a legal expert of any kind, but this is my understanding of the laws recently enacted by the Washington state government regarding police pursuit and detention.
K-9s can not be used for pursuit.
Car pursuit is only allowed if the officer has probable cause (was reasonable suspicion).
Police detention is only allowed for probable cause (was reasonable suspicion).
(If I have misinterpreted any of this, I trust my readers will point it out.)
The net effect seems to be, unless the officer sees the crime take place, the officer can not do anything. We reported a car parked in our company parking lot. Police arrived – the car was stolen. The police informed us that even if the driver were present, the police would let him walk away (unless of course the police witnessed the driver steal the car).
Drivers in Washington are refusing to pull over for police as a result of these new laws. Car thefts have doubled and the police are powerless to do anything about it. There have been reports of people tracking down their own stolen cars and confronting thieves resulting in violence (including gunfights) and death. Some of the voices that once called for defunding the police have changed their tune now, after seeing (and feeling) the result. Seattle is now trying to hire more officers. It’s too late – the state legislature has sealed the deal – more police now (if they can find and hire them) won’t change this.
This is a textbook example of what simplistic answers (“it’s the guns”) coupled with raw emotion get us. Crime is on the rise in Washington state, shootings are on the rise in Washington state. The “solution” the state government put in place could not possibly be more wrong. If these consequences were unintended, it’s an example of stunning incompetence. If they were intended, it’s an example of evil. Take your pick.
No – the left claims this is all about “equity” and protecting people of color from the big bad police. In other words, “identity politics.” Well, refusing to enforce the law is getting people killed. I guess that is what “identity politics” is all about. The left may want to leave their emotions and ideology aside for just a few minutes and take a look at the effect, if they cared that is.