Democratic presidential contender Martin O’Malley is pissed about the Charleston shootings. That is what he said in an email to supporters. So, is he pissed at the murderer, Dylann Roof? Don’t be silly! He’s pissed at Republicans. When you’re a Democrat, it’s all politics, all the time:
“It’s time we called this what it is: a national crisis,” O’Malley said in the e-mail, which carried the subject header “I’m pissed” and included links to a Web page to provide contact information to his campaign.
Violent crime, especially homicide, is in decline, both long term and short term. The U.S. homicide rate today is where it was in the 1950s. This is not a “national crisis.”
In the e-mail, O’Malley pointed to his record as governor, which included passage in 2013 of a wide-ranging gun-safety bill. On the national level, he is calling for an assault weapons ban, stricter background checks and efforts to prevent “straw purchases” of guns, such as fingerprinting requirements, which Maryland implemented.
Let’s take those one by one. “Assault weapons,” as we have noted many times, are rarely used in crimes. Dylann Roof didn’t use one.
I don’t know what O’Malley means by stricter background checks; generally what the Democrats have in mind is requiring background checks to be run when the seller is not a licensed firearms dealer. But Roof, like most mass “shooters,” passed a background check and bought his Glock legally, according to news reports. Expanding background checks does no good unless you expand the NICS list beyond the categories that are now covered–essentially, convicted felons and those who have been adjudicated mentally ill.
Straw purchasing is already a federal crime. I am not sure what fingerprinting gun buyers is supposed to accomplish; they already have to provide identification. The real issue relating to straw purchasing is lack of enforcement. Under the Obama administration, federal prosecutions of gun-related offenses have declined by 30% to 40% compared with the Bush years. Eric Holder’s politicized Department of Justice had higher priorities than prosecuting actual crimes. As is so often the case, it makes much more sense to enforce laws already on the books than to pass new ones.
O’Malley probably knows all of this already, and is just trying to fool Democratic primary voters. If he really is pissed, I suspect it is because he has been unable to make a dent in the polls.
PAUL ADDS: Is Martin O’Malley “pissed” about the wave of homicides and other violent crimes in Baltimore, where he was once the mayor? If so, has he denounced the decisions that led to the crime wave — e.g., overcharging the officers involved with Freddie Gray and requiring the police to be passive during the recent rioting in which dozens of officers were assaulted and hospitalized.
The answers to these two questions are probably not and no. There are no Democratic votes to be won by being “pissed” about “black-on-black” crime and there are votes to be lost (O’Malley has none to spare) by criticizing anti-police decisions made by African-American politicians.