After a gang shooting, who should be deprived of guns?
Six were killed in Sacramento at 2 A.M. on April 3, in an area packed with bars, restaurants, and nightclubs just blocks from California's Capitol Building. A dozen more were wounded. The toll could easily have been worse: 100 shots were fired.
The Officeholder Formerly Known as Joe Biden reacted immediately, quite unsurprisingly calling for further restrictions on the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding Americans. For leftists, this non sequitur comes as easily as breathing. Privately owned firearms are anathema to the authoritarian left. American Democrats are newly emboldened by their ability to commit massive election fraud without consequences. It stands to reason that they will seize any opportunity, no matter how bereft of logic, to grab guns. It's what they do.
As we confront yet another assault on our God-given right to defend ourselves, let's imagine how firearms laws yet to be enacted might have protected those killed in Sacramento. Most were non-white people. One was a 57-year-old woman, homeless for years. She was caught in the crossfire, as happens often in a war zone. It's a too common occurrence now in presumably civilized American cities. How might lawmakers have saved their lives had they acted sooner?
One suspect was arrested within a day. Time will tell if the police have the right guy. He was a convicted felon, prohibited by law from owning a firearm. Nonetheless, he had one.
A second arrest was made a day later. That suspect wasn't hard to find; he was hospitalized with bullet wounds. Some things we know about suspect #2:
– He was on probation after his release from prison in February. He served five years of a ten-year sentence for felony assault on a woman. He punched her, dragged her by her hair, beat her with a belt, and tried to force her into prostitution.
– He was also convicted of theft and possession of an illegal "assault weapon," as defined by California law.
– A Sacramento prosecutor called his criminal conduct "violent and lengthy," asserting that he had "little regard for human life and the law."
– As a convicted felon, he was prohibited from even handling a firearm.
– Days before his arrest, he posted a video brandishing a handgun, a felony in itself.
– In the April 3 shooting, he may have used a handgun converted for fully automatic fire — in effect, a machine gun. While antique machine guns can be owned under highly controlled circumstances, weapons such as he used are illegal nationwide.
Suspect #1 didn't have a machine gun. He did have a gun, though — illegally.
A third suspect, the only one over 30, was arrested not a day later. He, too, had an illegal firearm. He was not charged with a crime related to the shooting and was released the same day. You read that correctly: though he possessed a firearm illegally, he was released the same day.
More suspects may be found. Police say evidence indicates five or more gunmen, probably gang members. "If rival gang members see each other, it doesn't matter where they are," said a Cal State criminal justice professor, who noted that gangs typically target one another in drive-by shootings, with fewer bystanders.
If the three suspects, or others with similar backgrounds, are in fact responsible for the carnage on April 3, no proposed new firearms law could have prevented it. They could not legally buy or possess firearms anywhere in the United States. A highly reliable federal background check system prevented any retailer from selling them a gun. They had guns anyway. They ignored multiple laws when they stole them or bought them on the street, and when they carried them. If they are tried, jurors must consider whether they will ignore those laws again after regaining their freedom. A reasonable jury might easily conclude they will and impose a life sentence.
That would certainly prevent gun violence — at least in their cases.
Sacramento sheriff Scott Jones has already blamed the loss of lives on April 3 on soft-on-crime California policies that "treat criminals like victims." The Biden administration, however, will not demand stronger prosecution, or increased sentences, for those guilty of murder, assault with a deadly weapon, and illegal possession of firearms. Like all good leftists, it will instead call for even more of what are meaninglessly termed "commonsense gun laws": the elimination of certain types of rifles and pistols (most developed a century or more ago) and further prohibitions on the ownership or carry of all firearms by the law-abiding for self-defense. The administration will attempt to curtail the sales of gun parts and sub-assemblies, alleging that their lack of serial numbers appeals to criminals who assemble them into "ghost guns." Alas, criminals have all the black-market guns they need.
None of this will stop crime. The people affected by the new legislation the administration will propose very rarely commit crimes. Their intent is to protect themselves from violence by the most effective means available: the private ownership and carry of a weapon. They obey the law. They dutifully undergo background checks, apply for permits, and take training courses as required. They present no threat to the public.
Like the armed citizens of any free nation, they do present a threat to those with designs on freedom. It is for that reason that they, not criminals, have legislative targets on their backs.
Image via Pxhere.