Recent mass shootings have prompted calls for new gun control legislation aimed primarily at rifles. However, most murders are not the product of mass shootings by people who want to make a statement, political or otherwise. They are committed on a small scale, with handguns, by ordinary criminals.
At Conservative Review, Daniel Horowitz presents a seven-step plan to reduce homicides. I have distilled his seven steps to six, which are set forth below, along with some of Horowitz’s commentary:
Increase mandatory sentencing for gun felons: What if Republicans brought a bill to the Senate floor to increase mandatory sentencing on gun felons for those engaging in a violent crime with guns or those caught possessing guns after being convicted for aggravated felonies? There are so many stories of violent felons violating their probation by owning firearms, yet they aren’t sent back to prison.
Increase mandatory sentencing for gun felons: Homicide in this country plummeted by over 60 percent precisely over the same period that gun ownership soared. Why? Thanks to Reagan’s Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA), we actually deterred violent criminals with stiff mandatory sentencing. Yet for all the hand-wringing over “draconian” mandatory sentences, they were only mandatory from 1987 to 2005. Following the Booker decision of the Supreme Court, they have just been advisory. This has created a huge amount of disparity in the system, and in recent years, the lack of mandatory sentencing has decreased the successes of the Reagan-era laws. Take bad guys who use guns (or other weapons) off the streets, not guns out of the hands of law-abiding citizens.
Fix court loophole allowing violent felons back on the streets: Four years ago, in Johnson v. U.S, the Supreme Court ruled that the “crime of violence” provision in the ACCA is unconstitutionally vague. That has allowed thousands of the worst career gun felons and other violent individuals to get out of jail early or escape reasonable sentencing to begin with. Just this year. . . Justice Gorsuch joined with the four liberals in expanding the assault on the ACCA, this time by saying that 924(c)(3), the statute that prohibits using or carrying a firearm during a federal “crime of violence,” is unconstitutional. . .It is simply astounding that the GOP-controlled Senate has not tried to fix this law, especially in light of Democrats supporting gun control. Now, armed robbers pointing short-barreled shotguns at store clerks avoid tougher sentencing at the same time liberals claim they want to “do something!” about gun violence.
Allow good guys to carry everywhere: While we seek to deter bad guys with guns, why not allow peaceful citizens who undergo a background check and licensing to be able to carry in all 50 states with such a license, just as with driver’s licenses?. . .No state has the right to deny an unambiguous constitutional right, and one of the reasons we have a federal government is to protect those rights when states infringe on them.
Fast-track death penalty for mass murderers: [I]t now takes over 20 years to execute someone, essentially rendering capital punishment worthless as a deterrent. [W]hite supremacist attackers, in particular, don’t seem to kill themselves as they attack, which means they would be more deterred by a swift death penalty.
Declare war on sanctuary cities: The only thing worse than letting career criminals back on the streets is letting other countries’ career criminals remain in the country. . . Nearly every day at [Conservative Review], we cover the endless murders, sex assaults, and drunk driving incidents by illegal aliens who are allowed to remain in this country, often after committing other crimes, thanks to sanctuary cities. By definition, these are the most avoidable deaths imaginable. If Democrats are demanding to do something!, we should begin with getting rid of other countries’ criminals by immediately punishing sanctuary cities and by allowing citizens to sue sanctuary officials who release criminal aliens. Congress should also create a fund for victims of illegal aliens out of the money saved from denying grant programs to sanctuaries.
Horowitz proposes his seven-step plan as a counter to gun control legislation. In theory, one could enact new gun control legislation and Horowitz’s entire plan.
However, new gun control legislation likely will suffer from at least one of the following infirmities: it will violate the Second Amendment or it will be ineffective. Horowitz’s plan would save countless lives without violating constitutional rights.
Republicans should embrace it.