In Tuesday’s State of the Union address, President Joe Biden claimed he wants to restore safety and control crime. He denounced efforts to “defund” the police. But with congressional elections coming up, he lacked any useful proposals.
During the State of the Union, Biden claimed that “the American Rescue Plan provided $350 billion that cities, states, and counties can use to hire more police and invest in proven strategies like community violence interruption.” However, last year, even liberal fact-checkers acknowledged: the bill “did not stipulate that the relief funding had to be used on police officers or for other law enforcement initiatives.”
Biden’s own Treasury Department summarized the spending this way:
The Rescue Plan will provide needed relief to state, local, and Tribal governments to enable them to continue to support the public health response and lay the foundation for a strong and equitable economic recovery. In addition to helping these governments address the revenue losses they have experienced as a result of the crisis, it will help them cover the costs incurred due responding to the public health emergency and provide support for a recovery – including through assistance to households, small businesses and nonprofits, aid to impacted industries, and support for essential workers.
Where does this mention police or prosecutions as priorities?
Biden’s claims look a real change from what he said during the presidential campaign. Back in July 2020, when asked if Biden supported “redirect[ing] some of the funding for police into social services,” he responded: “Yes, I proposed that kind of reform.”
But you don’t need to go back to the campaign to see how superficial Biden’s words were on Tuesday. See what he said when he went to New York City last month and gave a major address on crime. What did he propose?
Did Biden point out that the Democrats in New York City cut the police budget by $1 billion per year? No.
Did he note how New York’s bail reform has let violent criminals out on the street only to commit more crime? No.
Did he criticize district attorneys in New York City or elsewhere who are not prosecuting violent criminals? No.
Did he express concern over the large numbers of inmates released from jails and prisons? No.
Of course, those calls would have upset many Democrats. But, unfortunately, besides lip service that he wants to reduce crime, he didn’t offer any of these obvious concrete proposals during his State of the Union address. On Tuesday, Biden offered no specific proposals to ensure funds go to the police.
Targeting Guns Instead of Criminals
Instead, the only specific proposals focused only on gun control. Biden ignores that over 92 percent of violent crime has nothing to do with guns.
He talked about the need to “repeal the liability shield that makes gun manufacturers the only industry in America that can’t be sued,” which is a lie. People can sue gunmakers if they sell a gun illegally or make a defective gun. Biden wants to make gun manufacturers civilly liable for misuse of firearms they sell. That means people could sue manufacturers and sellers whenever a crime, accident, or suicide occurs with a gun. The end goal is to put gun makers out of business. Imagine if you could sue Ford the next time someone gets intentionally run over with an F150.
He talked about an assault weapon ban, but in his New York City address, Biden talked about banning any semi-automatic gun that “can hold” a large capacity magazine. He has repeated that theme many times over the last few years. The problem is that any semi-automatic gun manufactured today “can hold” or has the “ability” to hold a magazine of virtually any capacity. About 85 percent of all handguns made were semi-automatics that “can hold” magazines. Almost as many rifles also fit that definition.
At the same time that Democrats are eviscerating law enforcement and prosecutions, Biden wants to make it difficult for people to defend themselves. Semi-automatic guns provide critical self-defense benefits. If we force law-abiding victims to rely on single-shot guns, they could find themselves in trouble. If they face multiple criminals or fire and miss their target, individuals may not have the time to manually reload their gun.
Biden talked about passing background checks on the private transfer of guns, but not using these background checks to create a national gun registry. He put together nearly one billion firearm purchase records. The government now has a searchable digital database containing 866 million transactions, including some 54 million made in 2021 alone. Federal law explicitly prohibits the creation of a federal firearm registry, but Biden is making one anyway.
This national gun registry isn’t complete because not all states have background checks on the private transfer of guns, and Biden hasn’t yet gotten all the transaction records that licensed gun dealers have. Federal agents can now type in a person’s name into a computer and possibly come up with all the guns they purchased.
It isn’t rocket science to understand why crime is increasing, and it isn’t the fault of gun owners. Many parts of the country are in dire need of basic law enforcement. But despite nice rhetoric, Biden is refusing to face the crime problem seriously.