The Deceit of Gun-Control Bills

by
posted on July 5, 2023
gun control bil cartoon
Illustration: Gary Locke

Small children tend to believe that, if they cover their own eyes, they will be able to prevent other people from seeing them. In recent years, a similar conviction has been displayed by the opponents of the right to keep and bear arms, who have apparently managed to convince themselves that if they ignore the failure of all the gun-control measures that they have imposed in the past, everyone else will forget about them, too.

They’re wrong.

In April, President Joe Biden (D) climbed atop his high horse and asked a room full of journalists, “How many more Americans must die before Republicans in Congress will act to protect our communities?” This was dishonest to its core. It is true that most Republicans in Congress—and many Democrats, too—have declined to endorse all of Biden’s anti-Second Amendment extremism. But this is not because those lawmakers are uninterested in protecting our communities; it is because those lawmakers understand that nothing that Biden has proposed would serve that end. Biden’s insinuation—that everyone in America secretly knows that he is right, but that only some of them are willing to act on it—is false, morally grotesque and unbecoming of a president of the United States.

It is also extremely self-serving, for Biden seems to already have forgotten—or, rather, he is already pretending to have forgotten—that the federal government passed a whole bunch of counterproductive gun-control measures as recently as last year. In August of 2022, Congress approved a bill called the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, which Biden praised to the hilt.

“I was there 30 years ago, the last time this nation passed meaningful gun-safety laws,” Biden said when the measure emerged from Congress. “And I’m here today for the most-significant law to be passed since then, since—for the last 30 years.” 

This was no slip-up. Elsewhere, the bill’s lead sponsor, Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) described the statute as “a breakthrough agreement on gun violence—the first in 30 years—that will save lives,” and as “the most-significant piece of anti-gun violence legislation in nearly 30 years.” Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), the Senate majority leader, said that he was “pleased that, for the first time in nearly 30 years, Congress is on the path to take meaningful action to address gun violence.” Gabby Giffords’ take was that 2022 was “the first time in 30 years that Congress takes major action on gun safety.”

Now? It’s as if it never happened.

This is par for the course. Along with Sen. Murphy, Sen. Schumer and many others, President Biden is currently playing yet another round of the same mendacious linguistic game that he always plays when discussing guns. First, Biden complains that his ideas have not been attempted for three decades—if at all—and he uses this supposed inaction to convince lawmakers to do what he wants. Next, he sells the resulting change as a crucial “breakthrough” that is destined to save lives. And, finally, when his approach fails yet again, he goes back to the first step and seamlessly resumes his insistence that nothing he favors has ever been tried.

The result is the worst of both worlds: Not only are law-abiding Americans obliged to live under a gradually accreting collection of gun-control regulations that do nothing of practical use, but also, because that gradually accreting collection of gun-control regulations is assiduously ignored by its champions, those champions never stop to consider their own position.

If President Biden were honest, he would acknowledge that the law he once described as “the most significant” in three decades has failed so badly that he no longer acknowledges that it exists. That he has opted instead to blame his critics for his own failures should tell us all we need to know.

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