Gun Control Debate 2013: Obama Distracts With More Theatrics, Ignores the Real Problems

As PolicyMic pundit Robby Barthelmess explained in his article yesterday, approval numbers have been dropping amongst Americans to support sweeping gun control measures. To change that, the Obama administration is continuing to pull on those emotional strings, doing everything it can to keep the Sandy Hook tragedy fresh in everyone’s minds. Exploiting the children didn't work, so Obama used the mothers next.

I have to hand it to this administration, they utilize emotion and photo ops better than anyone else.

What gets lost in all the emotion and theatrics are not only the root causes of tragedies like Sandy Hook, but the fact that no amount of laws being passed really means anything if the people who break those laws aren't being prosecuted.

Take Chicago for example, Obama’s own backyard. The gun homicide rate spiked 39% last year, totaling 532 murders in 2012 or more than 20 times the number of people who were killed in Sandy Hook. There have already been 70 homicides recorded through March 2013.

Not a single gun shop can be found in this city, because they are outlawed. Handguns were banned in Chicago for decades until 2010, when the Supreme Court ruled that went too far leading city leaders to settle for restrictions many describe as the closest they could get legally to a ban without a ban (though the illegal gun trade continued to flourish for decades even with the ban). Despite a continuing legal fight, Illinois remains the only state in the nation with no provision to let private citizens carry guns in public.

So if Chicago’s gun control laws are so strict, how is it that the city’s gun homicide rate is out of control? Maybe it has something to do with the fact that it’s failed to prosecute federal gun crimes.

Chicago ranked last in the nation in terms of federal gun law enforcement in 2012, according to a new report from Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse. Federal gun crimes include illegal possession of a firearm in a school zone, illegal sale of a firearm to a juvenile, felon, or drug addict, and illegal transport of a firearm across state lines.

In fact, the cities that have the nation’s most restrictive gun laws as well as the most active mayors in championing gun control New York City’s Michael Bloomberg, Chicago’s Rahm Emanuel, and Los Angeles’ Antonio Villaraigosa  all ranked last in prosecutions of federal weapons crimes per capita last year.

Where’s Attorney General Eric Holder on the lack of federal enforcement? I guess he’s too busy going after credit rating agencies who downgraded America’s rating under this administration’s watch.

Meanwhile, next door to Chicago, Aurora (Illinois' second largest city) experienced zero murders last year. That’s right, not one. How? As the police chief explained, "If you look at about 2005 to 2007, we took about 150 high-ranking gang members, shooters off the streets in Aurora, with help from federal partnerships with the ATF and FBI. I think that was a big contributor." In other words, aggressively enforcing current laws and taking criminals off the streets and keeping them behind bars does more to lower the homicide rate than keeping law-abiding citizens from owning firearms, leaving them vulnerable and unable to defend themselves.

This isn't a revolutionary concept. It’s happened before. For instance, an analysis of 25 years of Justice Department statistics by the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research found that the ten states with the greatest increases in incarcerated criminals experienced an average decrease of 13% in violent crime. The ten states with the smallest increase in incarcerated criminals experienced an average 55% increase in violent crime.

But enforcing existing gun laws is not politically profitable for politicians. That takes too long. It’s not a "quick fix" that happens overnight where you can make photo ops and pressers the next day. It’s within their interest to make the public think government is the answer to all of life’s problems. So they simply pass more laws while the national spotlight is on them to make it look like they’re "doing something," because more laws will naturally prevent criminals and the mentally ill from killing anyone again.

There. We "banned" assault weapons. We supported background checks. We made high ammunition magazines illegal. Problem solved.

Then nobody bothers to follow up on the enforcement. And when the next shooting gets publicized by the sensationalist media, we gotta "do something" again…

If only we could just make it illegal to kill people. Is that a law yet?

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John Giokaris

John Giokaris has been contributing to PolicyMic since February 2011. Born and raised in Chicago, John graduated from Loyola University Chicago with a double major in Journalism and Political Science and is currently earning his J.D. at The John Marshall Law School. John believes in free market principles, private sector solutions, transparency, school choice, constitutionally limited government, and being a good steward of taxpayer dollars. His goals are to empower/create opportunity for citizens to use the tools at their disposal to succeed in America, which does more to grow the middle class and alleviate those in poverty than keeping a permanent underclass dependent on government sustenance indefinitely. Sitting on the Board of Directors for both the center-right Chicago Young Republicans and libertarian America's Future Foundation-Chicago, he is also a member of the free market think tank Illinois Policy Institute's Leadership Coalition team along with other leaders of the Illinois business, political, and media communities. John has seven years experience working in writing/publishing, having previously worked at Law Bulletin Publishing, the Tribune Company, and Reboot Illinois. His works have been published in the Chicago Tribune, U.S. News & World Report, Crain's Chicago Business, Reboot Illinois, Townhall, the Law Bulletin, and the RedEye. He's also made appearances on CBS News, PBS, and Al Jazeera America.

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