We Don’t Need More Laws, We Need To Enforce Existing Ones

by
at President, NRA posted on November 25, 2016
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This feature appears in the December ‘16 issue of NRA America’s 1st Freedom, one of the official journals of the National Rifle Association.  

Late in September, 54-year-old Peter Fabbri—by all accounts a peaceable man, a hard-working Chicago suburban resident and a father of two grown daughters—was brutally and senselessly murdered; shot in the head by a Chicago gang member long on law enforcement’s radar.

Fabbri had been attending a wine-tasting party with his sister and his girlfriend at Chicago’s trendy Millennium Park when he was shot down. He was among eight individuals killed and 44 wounded in the city that weekend. Just another day in Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s shamefully lawless city of Chicago, where violent crime has reached historic levels. 

Chicago Police First Deputy Superintendent Kevin Navarro said, “By failing to serve sufficient penalties, the offenders have nothing to fear.”But, there are sufficient penalties—in the federal laws.The Chicago Sun-Times reacted with an editorial headlined, “More blood in the news cries out for saner gun laws,” saying:

“The suspect, Paul Pagan, 32[,] had been arrested 39 times and was twice convicted for pointing a gun during an argument. He has convictions for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, reckless conduct, marijuana possession and possession of a stolen motor vehicle. He had a warrant out for his arrest. Yet he was back on the street, allegedly with a gun.”

The editorial went on to declare that “Violent crime is a Chicago crisis.” What to blame this time? The editorial continued, “a study by Northeastern and Harvard universities estimated that the number of privately owned guns in the United States … grew by more than 70 million between 1994 and 2015.”

Their conclusion?  “Clearly, it is folly to pretend our nation’s gun laws cannot and should not be tougher.”

Remarkably, instead of the usual demand for pointless “gun safety laws” such as “universal” background checks, the Sun-Times called for enactment of a state law that “would lengthen presumptive sentences for repeat gun offenders. That is to say, it might have kept the man charged in the shooting near Millennium Park, Paul Pagan, off the street longer—and his alleged victim might still be alive.”Clearly, after his first felony conviction and subsequent arrest for armed violent crime, Pagan could have been put away. It would have been an easy conviction. Had that happened, Peter Fabbri would have returned home, gone back to work and enjoyed fulfilling his life.

That is a breathtaking display of elitist ignorance.

How many times do we have to tell the sanctimonious media that such laws—laws that cover every corner of the nation—already exist? The surgical enforcement of these laws could wipe the streets of Chicago, or any community in America, of violent armed predators.

The lie that more laws are needed ignores the truth. In Chicago, everyone involved in law enforcement—from Mayor Emanuel to police officials, especially to federal agents and federal prosecutors—all know the truth. Chicago, out of 90 cities evaluated for enforcement of federal gun laws, ranks 90th.

Chicago Police First Deputy Superintendent Kevin Navarro said, “By failing to serve sufficient penalties, the offenders have nothing to fear.”

But, there are sufficient penalties—in the federal laws.

For the accused killer, as a convicted felon, mere possession of any firearm is a federal felony covered by 18 U.S.C. 922(g) which calls for 10 years in a federal prison.

The laws to end the armed criminal violence plaguing our nation are already on the books. We must demand they be used to their fullest extent to save the lives of thousands upon thousands of innocent victims, like Peter Fabbri.Then there is 924(c) which covers carrying, using or possessing a firearm in connection with a crime of violence or drug trafficking crime. That calls for sentencing of an additional minimum five years, with the potential for seven, 10 or even 30 additional years depending on the firearm used in the crime.

The killer in this case had four felonies and was currently wanted on a gun charge. Under the Armed Criminal Career Act section 18 U.S.C. Sec. 924(e), a convicted prohibited person who had three prior violent felony convictions can be put away for a 15-year mandatory minimum.

Then there is 924(j), covering death during a 924(c) violation, which provides sentencing of up to life in prison and under certain circumstances carries the death penalty.

Clearly, after his first felony conviction and subsequent arrest for armed violent crime, Pagan could have been put away. It would have been an easy conviction.

Had that happened, Peter Fabbri would have returned home, gone back to work and enjoyed fulfilling his life.

Because of the malfeasance of everyone in government who refuses to enforce the existing tough federal laws, Peter Fabbri is dead.

And that brings me to what we, as NRA members, can do.

You and I can save lives. Every time you see an article or editorial demanding new gun control, present the media with the truth. Demand that the federal laws mandating tough punishment for armed criminals be enforced. 

Copy this column. Send it—or better yet, give it—to members of the media. Send it as a letter to the editor. Give it to family, friends and co-workers. Ask them to spread the truth. Prosecution is prevention!

The laws to end the armed criminal violence plaguing our nation are already on the books. We must demand they be used to their fullest extent to save the lives of thousands upon thousands of innocent victims, like Peter Fabbri.

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