AMAC Exclusive – By Shane Harris
As violent crime continues to devastate many major American cities and even spread into the suburbs, the Biden administration is returning to a familiar Democratic scapegoat to escape blame for the tragic consequences of the progressive left’s failed criminal justice “reforms” and support for the Defund the Police movement. Who are they saying is to blame? Well, gun owners, of course.
At a Rose Garden event on Monday, President Biden announced Steve Dettelbach, a former U.S. Attorney from Ohio, as his new nominee to head the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) as well as new restrictions on so-called “ghost guns.” Both moves were part of a coordinated effort by the White House this week to appear to be doing something about the wave of violent crime sweeping the nation, which Americans now rank as their number three concern, just behind the economy and inflation.
But as Republican lawmakers and many conservatives have argued, the Biden administration’s anti-Second Amendment crusade has little hope of doing anything to curb violent crime, and these latest measures appear to be nothing more than a tactic to placate radical gun control advocates after Biden promised “significant reform” to gun laws throughout his 2020 campaign.
Although other items on Biden’s progressive agenda have gotten most of the attention in recent months, pro-Second Amendment groups have warned that the administration has silently been working to restrict gun rights since Biden took office. The nomination of David Chipman, Biden’s first choice to lead the ATF in April of 2021, had to be withdrawn amid bipartisan opposition to his prior work for far-left gun control groups and concerns from ATF officials that Chipman was a “rabid partisan” who holds hostile views toward the Second Amendment and gun owners.
The defeat of Chipman’s nomination was a major setback for Biden’s gun control agenda, but appears to not have deterred the White House from advancing another strong opponent of gun rights to fill the post. While he was running for Ohio Attorney General in 2018, Dettelbach expressed support for universal background checks and an outright ban on so-called “assault weapons,” two positions that immediately put him on the far left of gun control debates. Pro-gun groups have warned that Dettelbach is a “rinse and repeat” from Chipman, while Republican Senator Steve Daines of Montana called Dettelbach a “gun-grabbing radical that will put Montanans’ Second Amendment rights in jeopardy.”
Dettelbach’s nomination was also announced in coordination with the release of a new Justice Department rule on “ghost guns,” Democrats’ term for privately made firearms that are more difficult for the government to track. Progressives have long pushed for such action, even as Republicans warn that Democrat soft-on-crime policies, not guns, are the real threat to public safety. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) slammed the new rule as a “distraction from the reality that the explosion of crime in blue cities is directly attributable to those same cities implementing de-policing, installing progressive prosecutors, and enacting disastrous bail reform policies.”
The tragic shooting incident that unfolded in New York City earlier this week seems to support Grassley’s assertion. Because Frank James, the individual responsible for wounding 23 people with a handgun in a subway car, purchased the weapon legally, the official media narrative has been, as it is with nearly all mass shootings, that guns are too easy to obtain.
But this explanation misses a major part of the story. James was only able to buy a gun legally because of liberal “sentencing reform,” which allowed him to evade a felony conviction for one of the many violent crimes he had previously committed. The New York City subway shooting case thus appears to be one more example of left-wing criminal justice “reform” policies allowing dangerous criminals both to escape jail time and avoid laws designed specifically to keep people like James from acquiring guns.
If recent history is any indication, Democrats’ pursuit of more extreme gun control measures as an answer for crime is also unlikely to help them in November’s midterm elections, as the White House clearly hopes. While education issues took center stage in Virginia’s gubernatorial race last year, for example, gun owners in the state also turned out in force to oppose Terry McAuliffe’s promise to further restrict Second Amendment rights in the state. Moreover, studies suggest that more Blacks and Latinos – historically key Democratic voting blocs – are becoming gun owners than ever before.
But even with clear evidence that law-abiding Americans like their Second Amendment freedoms and have no intention of wavering, any change in direction from the Biden administration appears unlikely. Just as the Democratic Party remains beholden to a small minority of progressive activists on energy, economic, and social issues, fringe anti-gun groups appear to have the White House by the nose when it comes to gun policy.
At the same time, Democrats have backed themselves into a corner by declaring that policies like ending cash bail, outright refusing to prosecute some crimes, and “diverting” law enforcement funding are the only way to end alleged “systemic racism” in the criminal justice system. Thus, they are left with few, if any, options to address violent crime – and that’s something voters won’t forgive.
Shane Harris is a writer and political consultant from Southwest Ohio. You can follow him on Twitter @Shane_Harris_