By Larry Keane
President Biden’s call for gun control on the anniversary of the Parkland, Fla. tragedy is, well… malarkey.
President Joe Biden marked the anniversary of the tragedy at Parkland, Fla., by calling for three of the planks of his gun control platform. He showed with this gun control call that he’s more interested in pursuing an agenda that’s rooted in ideological goals and not grounded in reality. Instead of pledging to hold criminals accountable for their actions and improve security at public schools, President Biden chose to placate the radical elements of his party.
President Biden used the tragic loss of 14 students and three adults at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School to press Congress for laws that would have done nothing to stop the murderer. He didn’t once mention the need for justice to be served and the murderer to be held accountable in a courtroom, which still hasn’t happened three years after his horrific crimes. President Biden chose to blame-shift. He called for retribution instead of accountability.
His missed opportunity won’t do anything to achieve the shared goal of reducing the criminal misuse of firearms. It will only infringe on the Second Amendment and leave law-abiding Americans defenseless against those who would prey upon them.
President Biden called on Congress to pass a law requiring universal background checks. That ignores the fact that the murderer purchased his firearms legally. He completed the background check forms and the retailers checked his information against the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). Nothing in the system prohibited him from purchasing his firearms.
That’s not because the murderer didn’t exhibit warning signs or give county, state and federal authorities reasons to intervene – even to the point of arrest and involuntary commitment to a mental health facility. Law enforcement had as many as 45 instances where they could have intervened, including an allegation that the murderer put a gun to his mother’s head. That’s a felony offense with a firearm. Yet, nothing was done. It is worth noting that at the time Florida already had a form of a so-called extreme risk protective order law.
The murderer also gave enough warning signs that fellow students reported him. School Resource Officers recommended he be committed for a mental health evaluation. The murderer posted a comment to YouTube five months before his crime, writing, “I’m going to be a professional school shooter.” The FBI got the first of two warnings that were never acted upon. The second warning came less than six weeks before his crime when a tipster called the FBI to complain. No one responded. The FBI admitted it failed to follow protocols.
The background check is only as good as the information it contains. The tragedy of Parkland proves this. That’s why the firearm industry championed the FixNICS® campaign to fix the FBI’s background check system by changing the law in 16 states and in Congress to increase reporting of disqualifying adjudicated mental health records, resulting in a 266 percent increase. The industry’s effort to improve NICS is ongoing.
More background checks for personal firearm transfers aren’t the answer. That would overwhelm the system. Even backers of universal background checks know this. It also won’t work without a national firearm registry, another fact known by President Biden and others who want this law.
A national registry is against federal law. Gun rights advocates, and those concerned about protecting civil liberties, know that a national registry is the first step to confiscation – another plan President Biden said he would pursue.
Ban ‘Assault Weapons’ & ‘High Capacity Magazines’
President Biden’s second Congressional tasking was to send him a bill banning what he termed “assault weapons,” along with “high capacity magazines,” and purposefully conflating the semiautomatic rifle with “weapons of war.” These are emotionally-charged arguments that bely fundamental facts.
Modern sporting rifles (MSRs) are semiautomatic rifles. This means one cartridge is expended each time the trigger is squeezed. This is technology that’s been in existence since 1885 and first appeared as a sporting rifle for commercial sale in 1903. The MSR was designed in the 1950s and was first sold to the public as the Colt Sporter in the early 1960s. Today, it’s the most popular-selling centerfire rifle on the market, with over 20 million in circulation, used daily for lawful purposes.
His demand to limit magazine capacity is blind to the facts of the Parkland crime. The murderer didn’t use the magazines President Biden seeks to ban. During the six minutes of his murderous rampage, the attacker wasn’t stopped from changing magazines to carry out his crimes all while the police failed to enter the school.
The crimes in Parkland, while horrific, are thankfully rare. The FBI’s own statistics show that more murders are committed with knives, fists and clubs than with all rifles of all types combined. President Biden, backed by radical gun control groups, is gaslighting the issue. They’re calling for a ban on a rifle because it is similar in appearance to that used by the military. Yet, they ignore the murderer.
Repeal the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA)
President Biden rounded out his gun control demands by telling Congress it must send him legislation repealing the bipartisan Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA) by, “eliminating immunity for gun manufacturers who knowingly put weapons of war on our streets.”
That’s madness. It would be the same as allowing activist lawyers to sue Ford for the wrongful deaths caused by drunk drivers. The bottom line is President Biden knows he’s shoveling “malarkey.” Instead of holding the murderer accountable for his crimes, he blames firearm manufacturers, whom he labeled “the enemy” in 2019. Instead of questioning the failures of Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel, he scapegoats the firearm industry.
The firearm industry isn’t waiting. While President Biden flails and lashes out, the firearm industry is working for Real Solutions®. The firearm industry partners with 15,000 law enforcement agencies to distribute 40 million firearm safety kits, including locking devices, for safe firearm storage through Project ChildSafe®. We are fixing the FBI’s background check system by changing the law in 16 states and in Congress to increase reporting of disqualifying adjudicated mental health records, resulting in a 266 percent increase. We partner with the ATF to prevent illegal firearm straw purchases and warn the public it is a crime punishable by 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. We are also working with ATF to improve security at firearm retailers and deter criminals from stealing firearms. We match ATF reward offers to bring criminals to justice that steal firearms. The firearm industry is also working with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and the Department of Veterans Affairs to prevent firearm suicides, which account for 60 percent of firearm fatalities annually.
The malarkey stops here. President Biden is welcome to join us for Real Solutions. Peddling radical gun control agendas doesn’t honor the memory of the lives lost to a criminal’s unspeakable acts and doesn’t stop the criminal misuse of firearms, reduce accidents or prevent suicides.
Larry Keane is Senior Vice President of Government and Public Affairs and General Counsel for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the firearms industry trade association.