PERKINS: Biden Gun Order Fails Background Check
Like most grandmothers, Carolyn Pettiford thought she was done raising children. A horrible February night in 2022 changed that forever. Her daughter, Ashley, had been parked on a Kansas City street when a man walked up, leaned into the car, and fired a gun twice. When police arrived, they found Ashley and her boyfriend dead, and Carolyn’s terrified five-year-old grandson alive, but shot badly in the face in the backseat. “He’s a pretty strong kid,” Carolyn says. But “to have to tell a five-year-old that he won’t be able to talk to his mother… that he will never be able to see his mother or to hug her, it’s hard.”
There are 20,138 families like Carolyn’s, who started 2023 with an empty seat at the dinner table because gun violence killed someone they loved last year. And while everyone’s stories are different, they all have one thing in common: There isn’t a single gun control policy that could have prevented them.
President Joe Biden, standing in front of a California dance hall where 11 people were mowed down in January, claims otherwise. Last Tuesday, by executive order, he announced a series of new attacks on the Second Amendment — all under the guise that stricter gun policies will somehow end the violence. It’s time, he said emphatically, to “do something. Do something big.” The trouble is, Democrats don’t seem to care if that “something” is the right thing.
Under Biden’s latest congressional end-run, he aims to move America “as close to universal background checks as possible without additional legislation” — which, as conservatives know, is just his lawless way of pushing the country closer to a national firearms registry that could facilitate totalitarian control. Like most Republicans, Congressman Greg Murphy (N.C.) is outraged by the idea, since a) Biden has no constitutional authority to impose these policies without Congress, b) it’s an invasion of Americans’ privacy, and c) it won’t do anything to prevent the bloodshed on our cities’ streets.
“The sad thing is,” Murphy told me on “Washington Watch,” “this is an absolute aberration and misunderstanding of who commits crimes with guns. It’s not law-abiding people, but that’s who he’s after.” So what purpose does any of this grandstanding serve? “I don’t know of one,” the congressman replied. “I don’t know that [there’s] any need for … the government to know who owns a gun and who does not own a gun. I’d love for them to know which criminals own guns — I could probably get behind that. But … law-abiding citizens? That’s not the right of the government. We have a right to own a gun for hunting, for self-protection. And the government has no right to intrude upon that privacy.”
Among other things, the order also weaponizes the DOJ to crackdown on gun sellers they believe aren’t policing buyers strongly enough. But gun sellers aren’t the problem, the data argues. Criminals are.
Josiah O’Neil, a former deputy sheriff in southern California who just ran for Congress, believes there’s a major flaw in the Left’s thinking, which is that gun control laws always assume someone who’s willing to commit murder would hesitate to break gun laws. “I’ve never met a criminal, whether in my local law enforcement or federal work, that respected laws. By definition, criminals don’t,” he explained on “Washington Watch” after the Uvalde massacre.
If anything, these knee-jerk reactions — these supposed “gun control” efforts — turn innocent citizens into sitting ducks. “When places adopt stricter gun control laws, there tends to be an increase in violent crime,” explained scholar John Lott. His research at the Crime Prevention Research Center found that “every place in the world that’s banned, either all guns or all handguns has seen an increase in murder.” Domestically, “over 94% of the successful mass public shootings that have occurred in the United States since 1950 have taken place in areas where citizens weren’t allowed to … have guns.”
Just look at Chicago and Baltimore — cities with some of the strictest gun laws in the country. Gun-related violence is through the roof. That’s because the same criminals who break the law to shoot someone are breaking the law to get the guns to do it with.
In Kansas City, where Ashley was killed, federal investigators say there are more than 2,000 stolen and illegal guns “floating” around the area. In fact, the man who ended her life and blinded her son used one. That’s also in keeping with the Justice Department’s findings from 2019 (the most recent data available). Only 10.1% of the inmates the government surveyed got their guns from a retail source. The other 90% either stole their firearms, bought them from an underground store, took them from their victims, received them as a gift, had someone else buy them, or bought, borrowed, traded, or rented them from friends or family. Barely 7% bought the gun in their own name and just 6.7% underwent a background check.
Last month, a blockbuster report from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms confirmed the trend, pointing out that more than a million guns were stolen from private citizens from 2017-2021. “Crime guns may change hands a number of times after that first retail sale, and some of those transactions may be theft or violate [firearm laws]. But what we know is from the large numbers of gun sales, there are lots of ways that legal guns end up in the hands of prohibited persons.”
And unfortunately, thanks to the Democrats’ other failed policies — defunding the police, for one — there’s a serious shortage of law enforcers to track those illegal guns down. From small towns to big cities, National Police Association spokesman Betsy Branter Smith warns that the “anti-police rhetoric of 2020 and its political fallout” has put departments at their lowest populations in 30 years. “I think this could be a generational problem,” she warned. “This could go on for years. Even if, let’s say, I could flip a magic switch tomorrow, and everyone loved the police and every kid in America wanted to be a cop … it takes nine months to a year from the date of hire for a person to become a police officer.”
But it isn’t just the reduction in force, it’s the reduction in penalties too. When people do commit crimes, Democrats are seeing to it that they aren’t punished. In Washington, D.C. right now, two-thirds of the arrests (67%) aren’t even prosecuted. The city’s criminal code has been so relaxed that “about half the people charged with murder typically have a prior gun arrest, according to police, though not necessarily a conviction.”
Even on routine traffic stops, The Washington Post reports, police are finding and seizing illegal guns. It’s a regular occurrence, officers say. In a single week last year, D.C. arrested 23 people for gun offenses, and “prosecutors did not pursue charges against 13 of them.” The city’s police chief, Robert Contee, fumed that the refusal to punish offenders is “very frustrating,” especially since so many of these people who are released from custody could be “picking up another gun.”
“[I] want to see people going to jail and being held accountable when they violate our community and go out there and use illegal firearms in our city.” Until then, Contee argues, nothing will change. The Left can scapegoat legal gun owners and sellers all it wants, but that doesn’t solve the deeper problems their policies are creating.
As plenty of people have pointed out, nothing the president has done would have stopped a single shooting we’ve witnessed — not Uvalde, not Monterey, not even Ashley Pettiford. This latest order isn’t action; it’s political theater, designed to play on people’s emotions and fears. Biden isn’t “accelerat[ing]” the work “to save more lives.” He’s distracting Americans from the border crisis, growing national security threats, and the economy — and wiping his feet on the Constitution as he does it.
Carolyn — and every parent who’s buried a child — deserves better.
Tony Perkins is president of Family Research Council and executive editor of The Washington Stand.