Nearly every big city in America is experiencing a tragic, senseless and preventable violent crime wave of historic proportions.
In Chicago, gun crime is up nearly 60 percent over last year. When asked about it, Mayor Lori Lightfoot blamed “not enough access to the things that we know build healthy and strong families and communities.” She also trotted out the tired old lie that neighboring states with so-called “lax gun laws” are to blame for the criminal violence plaguing her own city.
In New York City, illegal shootings have doubled over the last year and homicide is up 33 percent. Mayor Bill de Blasio’s response was to blame COVID-19 and then disband his city’s anti-crime unit.
In Houston, homicide is up over 46 percent, primarily driven by gang and drug-related murders, as well as the city’s revolving-door justice system that keeps criminals out of jail and on the streets. The response from Mayor Sylvester Turner and his police chief has been to lock arms with Michael Bloomberg and attack NRA members and law-abiding gun owners.
But here’s the dirty little secret that anti-gun politicians and their allies in the media won’t tell you. They have the power right now—today—to clean up their cities, save hundreds of lives and put a virtual end to gun crime. All they have to do is enforce existing gun laws. That’s it. Do your job.
We know it works, because it worked to near perfection in Richmond, Va., in the late 1990s. Back then, Richmond’s homicide rate was out of control and among the highest in the nation. Enter Project Exile—a simple and enormously effective program that put a laser focus on the root of the problem: criminals with guns. Under Project Exile, if local police arrested a drug dealer, gang banger or anyone committing crime with a firearm in their possession, then that criminal was immediately subject to prosecution under federal gun laws and stiff, mandatory prison time if found guilty.
The NRA helped fund an aggressive public-awareness campaign—billboards, radio ads and posters—putting every criminal on notice that if they were caught committing a crime with a firearm, they were going to prison.
The combination of strict enforcement, plus community and public awareness, soon reversed Richmond’s prevailing criminal culture.In the first year alone, Project Exile resulted in the arrest and conviction of 247 gun criminals, the seizure of over 400 illegally possessed guns and a staggering 33 percent reduction in Richmond’s homicide rate. Armed robberies dropped 30 percent. A year later, the homicide rate declined another 21 percent—nearly half of what it had been prior to Project Exile.
Even Tim Kaine, who was mayor of Richmond at the time (yes, the same Tim Kaine who is now an anti-gun U.S. senator from Virginia) admitted, “Project Exile is driving the crime rate down, and that is starting to make Richmonders believers again.”
Meanwhile, then-Deputy Attorney General Eric Holder (yes, that Eric Holder) demeaned Project Exile as a “cookie-cutter approach to reducing gun violence” that wouldn’t necessarily work in other cities. Which, of course, is a lie. Criminals in Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, Houston, New York and other crime-plagued cities are subject to the same federal laws that were used to save lives in Richmond.
Recently, the acting U.S. attorney in Brooklyn announced an effort to launch a Project Exile-like program to combat rising homicides. Tragically, he’s being met with the same nonsensical opposition that’s plagued many cities across the nation.
Amanda Chase, a federal defender in Brooklyn, is doing her level best to protect criminals at the expense of innocent New Yorkers. According to her, “These ongoing efforts to federalize local crimes accomplish nothing more than securing the removal of individuals from their communities and undermining the stability of those communities.”
Really? Removing violent criminals from city streets undermines the stability of the community? Does she actually think the mom, sitting at home, wondering if her child will make it back safely from school, prefers the “stability” of rampant criminal violence? Does she think New Yorkers forced to navigate armed gangs and drug dealers just to get to work or to shop at the local store wouldn’t rather those criminals be arrested, prosecuted and incarcerated?
The question for mayors of every city plagued by criminal gun violence is obvious: How many more have to die before you take the one, simple, proven action that will undeniably save lives?
You can do it right now, Mayor de Blasio, before one more young man or woman becomes a preventable statistic. Enforce the laws on the books and prosecute the criminals. Protect the innocent, Mayor Lightfoot. Safeguard your city, Mayor Turner. You have no excuse.
In fact, your willful negligence can only mean one thing: You don’t see the human faces behind your rising homicide statistics as much more than political fodder in your warped crusade against the Second Amendment. You’d rather take guns from the law-abiding than save lives. Your words and inaction speak volumes—and it’s a sick, tragic message, to be sure.