Originally published in the September 2018 Official Journals of the National Rifle Association
The New York Times apparently does not understand what farmers and ranchers know: If you want to protect your land, you have to remove the coyotes. And most Americans understand that if you want to protect your neighborhoods, you have to remove those people who prey upon the innocent.
That’s just plain common sense—the kind NRA members have been clamoring for, the kind every law enforcement officer on the beat understands. We get it. The New York Times does not.
The Times recently published an article that was critical of Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Justice Department efforts to enforce existing federal gun laws to punish firearm offenders as harshly and quickly as possible. The article noted a 15 percent increase in all federal gun prosecutions in the first nine months of 2017, but then used anonymous sources to argue that this aggressive approach to enforce existing law might “be used to sap energy from further legislative or regulatory efforts to combat gun violence, like regulating assault weapons or increasing background check requirements.”
While J. Thomas Manger, president of the Major Cities Chiefs Association, agreed that “The bad guys have a real fear of federal prosecutions versus state prosecutions,” he also said, “We certainly are hoping for some additional legislative fixes by Congress.”
The Times pushed its agenda further, to the point of an almost unimaginable position, by including comments from Inimai Chettiar, director of the justice program at New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice. “Enforcement isn’t always the solution to those different types of [gun] crimes,” Chettiar said. “The result might be to increase the federal prison population without a correlating reduction in crime.”
If you follow that logic, what’s the point of even having federal gun laws?
Sessions put it best when he said, “It’s not good if we’ve got gun laws that say criminals can’t carry guns and they never get enforced.”
Sessions gets it. If you use the federal gun laws to get felons with guns off the streets, if you enforce the law to remove the coyotes, our communities are safer.
For absolute evidence of that, all you have to do is go back to 1997. That year, a federal prosecutor in Richmond, Va., launched a program to prosecute under federal law every felon, drug dealer and violent criminal caught carrying an illegal firearm. The program was named “Project Exile,” because federal sentencing sent the bad guys out of state to a federal prison for an extended period of mandatory time.
The NRA was an early and ardent supporter of the program, and its results were remarkable.
Within its first year:
327 people were indicted in Richmond for federal gun violations;
440 illegally possessed firearms were taken off the streets;
300 persons were arrested or held in state custody;
222 arrestees (more than 74 percent) were held without bond;
247 criminals were convicted; and 96 criminals were sentenced to an average of 55 months of imprisonment.
During the first full year of “Project Exile” (1998), homicides in Richmond declined 33 percent, to the lowest point since 1987, and armed robberies dropped 30 percent. In 1999, homicides dropped another 21 percent. By 2007, homicides in Richmond were reduced by more than half of what they were in the year before the program was implemented.
Even as rank-and-file law enforcement officials joined the NRA in efforts to expand the program, the Clinton administration denigrated it. Eric Holder, who served at the time as President Bill Clinton’s deputy attorney general, called it a “cookie-cutter” approach to fighting crime and “Project Exile” was essentially watered down and phased out.
That makes no sense, and NRA members and the majority of Americans agree. We are the good guys.
Now, under the Trump administration, Sessions is helping law enforcement and federal prosecutors go after repeat, violent felons who carry illegal guns, and they’re getting them out of American neighborhoods.
But that initiative doesn’t fit the anti-Second Amendment agenda of The New York Times and the rest of the media and political elites, so they’re all singing the same old “cookie-cutter” song criticizing the Trump administration for “low-level” prosecutions. These elitists have shown their true intent. They don’t care about enforcing existing federal gun laws. They just want more laws.
That makes no sense, and nra members and the majority of Americans agree. We are the good guys. Enforce the laws against the violent bad guys, remove the violent criminals with guns and gang members with guns and drug dealers with guns from our streets—and leave our freedom alone!