Biden’s Playbook Can’t Suppress This

posted on March 29, 2024
Biden’s Playbook illustration
Illustration: Gary Locke

When invited to explain why a 23-year-old career criminal had murdered eight people in cold blood in in Joliet, Ill., in January, the police chief in charge of the investigation demurred. “We can’t get inside his head,” said Chief Bill Evans. “We just don’t have any clue as to why he did what he did.”

Alas, this concession did nothing to prevent President Joe Biden (D) from jumping to ambitious conclusions of his own. What had happened in Joliet, Biden immediately proposed, served to demonstrate “why I continue to call on Congress to pass universal background checks and a national red flag law, in addition to other commonsense gun-safety measures.”

Did it demonstrate that? How? According to the police, the perpetrator of the murders had a lengthy criminal record; indeed, at the time of the killings, he was awaiting trial for the aggravated discharge of a firearm.

In his rote statement, Biden insisted that his administration is engaged in an attempt to “keep guns off our streets and out of the hands of those who seek to harm themselves or others.”

But this simply isn’t true. In reality, Biden has been busy trying to keep firearms out of the hands of those who present no threat to anyone, while encouraging the promulgation of policies that make it easier to be a criminal. Whatever he might like to tell himself, nothing that Biden hopes to achieve would have had any effect in Joliet.

Given their complexity, the causes of crime can be tricky to evaluate. But it is reasonable to assume that a man who is willing to murder his mother, brother, sisters, aunt and uncle—as the killer in Joliet did, in addition to his other victims—is not interested in following the niceties of the law. There is no more serious crime than murder, and, within that, there is arguably no more egregious act than to murder one’s own mother.

Against such a backdrop, President Biden’s talk of “universal” background checks and “red-flag” laws seems utterly absurd—perhaps even callous. As Biden presumably knows, Illinois already has both of his proposed laws in place. Illinois also has a ban on so-called “assault weapons,” restrictions on “high-capacity” magazines, a Draconian permit-to-purchase/possess system and a mandatory three-day waiting period on all sales. None of these laws made any difference in Joliet because none of those laws could have made any difference in Joliet. They were designed to harass the law-abiding, not to stop spree-killing recidivists.

At this point, it is something of a cliché to observe that when anti-Second Amendment politicians hear about a crime that has been committed by a person abusing firearms, they focus on the gun rather than on the culprit. Still, most clichés exist for a reason, and this one presents no exception to that rule. There are approximately half a billion privately owned firearms in the United States. If a criminal is determined to get their hands on one, he is almost certain to succeed. This being so, there are only two useful things that policymakers can do to mitigate the risk: The first is to make sure that the people who are not the problem are not unduly burdened in their ability to exercise their right to keep and bear arms; the second is to lock up habitual criminals, so that they can no longer pose a threat to the innocent.

For three years, President Biden’s approach has been the precise opposite of this. Judging by his response to the abomination in Joliet, that is unlikely to change anytime soon.



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