As crime rates skyrocket throughout our country’s major cities, President Joe Biden has introduced a plan to combat crime, or “gun violence” as his administration and those on the left like to call it. Set aside that the White House is the wrong place to look for a solution to local crime problems and the fact that the president’s prescriptions for policing have been energetic but wrong, let’s address why this new plan is just more of the same political posturing we always see from the left.
Defund the police, the rallying cry of the far left for over a year now, is incredibly unpopular among Americans. President Biden’s call for more police on the streets is an obvious snub to the “defunding” crowd, but polling shows they don’t really matter that much, so it was a politically safe play for him. But will it fix anything? No, it won’t.
The first issue is that recruiting new officers and retaining current ones is becoming increasingly difficult for police departments everywhere. The anti-police environment the left has created makes bringing new people into the profession very difficult and is driving experienced officers out of it. The best and brightest among us are not going to be drawn to a profession that has been deemed systemically racist. The prosecution of police officers in the court of public opinion has created the perception of much greater criminal liability for officers doing their jobs. And the promise to take away civil liability protections will leave very little reason for someone to take the inherent risks of being a cop. So good luck putting more cops on the streets, Mr. President.
But deeper than that , we must look at what has been done to policing by those on President Biden’s side of the aisle. Crime rates are not climbing because of a lack of police, but because of a lack of proactive policing by the officers we already have. When New York Police Department disbanded its 600 officer anti-crime plainclothes unit and the Portland Police did the same with their gun crimes unit, they didn’t get rid of those officers, they just put them into other positions. Yet the violent crimes in those cities exploded. It wasn’t because there were fewer officers, it was because those teams of officers were the tip of the spear in proactive crimefighting. Having them do less or none of that has consequences.
It is not only the specialized units being disbanded that creates the problem. It is the perception of every police officer that the media and their own governmental officials, let alone the weaponized DOJ, are just waiting for them to make the next mistake. They are fearful of starring in the next viral video that results in a mob outside their families’ home, or gets them indicted, or gets them sued with increased civil liability exposure that costs them their life’s savings. Why would any police officer take any more risk than necessary in pursuing criminals?
When the police revert to a reactive form of policing only, where they simply respond to reported crimes, criminals are free to do what they do. Proactive policing puts pressure on the criminal element in our society and prevents criminal activity rather than simply responding to it. But that takes officers willing to take the initiative upon themselves, and they have been completely disincentivized to do that.
While the president’s “just shoot ‘em in the legs” foray into policing reform was comical to many, it did point out a fact that is often missed in the rush to rightfully deride him for the comment. Yes, shooting someone in the legs is a bad idea for a lot of reasons (and is very likely to still kill the suspect, just more slowlyand more painfully). It won’t necessarily stop them from doing what they doing.
And therein lies the problem—most people do not understand the issue the way cops all do, and the president’s words can seem to make sense.
That part is not necessarily a bad thing. The general public doesn’t want the police to kill anyone unless they have to, and they don’t understand the dangers a person with a knife poses or why a police officer can’t just shoot someone in the hand or leg. Their humanity and empathy are admirable qualities, and we should never lose these values as a society. But we also must better educate the public on the realities of crime, violence, and policing so that they can more realistically evaluate an officer’s actions, and reserve judgement until the evidence is clear.
What’s the solution? We must end the anti-police rhetoric and policies, and instead let our officers know they are supported. We must encourage them to get back to the task at hand—preventing crime. That will bring about proactive policing and the reduction in crime that the president’s proposals cannot. Soon, it will even result in more cops on the street as the job regains the place of honor and respect it once held. There’s no better way to attract new recruits.
But to be clear, the president’s comprehensive strategy is really not about crime. It is the opening salvo of the left’s gun control agenda. Law-and-order is always popular with the general public, and the left sees the weakness that their activist prosecutors, calls for cashless bail, and encouragement of looting and rioting expose them to at the polls. What they can do is undermine the Second Amendment through a broad gun control agenda. This is why the president’s proposed fix for crime reframes it as “gun violence” instead of crime.
It should be clear to everyone that guns do not commit crimes, criminals do. But framing the tidal wave of violent crime as “gun violence” (especially as an epidemic of the same) gives the left an opening for them to act. So called “ghost guns” and pistols with stabilizing braces are rarely used in crimes, but they are part of the left’s anti-gun agenda, so they’re now part of the president’s plan. It is easier to scare the public about the existence of a gun that has no serial number than it is to explain why leftwing prosecutors release criminals without concern to risk or refuse to prosecute them at all.
While the resources focused on illegal firearms trafficking are worthwhile, the already burdensome FFL rules (there is a whole section on “rogue gun dealers”) could soon become even more so. Let’s just hope that the administration itself can keep from firearm trafficking itself, as it did the last time Biden was in office.
From refusing to secure our border and declining to prosecute criminals, to encouraging riots and looting, the left has courted the criminal element and now owns it. If there were a positive note to be found regarding the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol, it would be that the left finally found a riotous mob it could condemn (and has it ever). Those on the left have demonized our police officers and weakened their ability—and motivation—to proactively police our communities, leaving gangs and other criminals undeterred. President Biden’s public safety plan is simply a gateway to the left’s gun control agenda, and nothing more.