U.S.A. — Following a weekend and holiday marked by several deadly shootings in Baltimore, Fort Worth, and Philadelphia, President Joe Biden once again demanded stricter gun control laws, just days after a new Pew Poll says “twice as many Americans expect the level of gun violence to increase rather than stay about the same over the next five years (62% vs. 31%).”
According to Pew, only 7 percent of survey respondents think gun-related violence will decrease.
CNBC is reporting that Biden’s remarks came after shootings in three cities claimed at least ten lives. That doesn’t include the five people murdered in Chicago over the holiday weekend.
The Philadelphia suspect, identified as Kimbrady Carriker by WPVI News, has been charged with five counts of murder. According to CNN, Carriker was armed with a rifle and pistol and was wearing a bulletproof vest. Investigators are still trying to establish a motive.
But Biden ramped up his gun control rhetoric by once again perpetuating what amounts to an urban myth: He wants to “end gun manufacturers’ immunity from liability.” Firearms manufacturers are not immune from product liability actions. What they are protected from by the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA) are so-called “junk lawsuits,” which were popular more two decades ago when municipalities filed a string of lawsuits in an effort to bankrupt gunmakers via legal expenses. This led to the passage of the PLCAA during the George W. Bush administration.
In his prepared statement, Biden also called for a safe storage requirement, which many in the Second Amendment community believe would be unconstitutional under the 2008 Heller ruling. He also wants so-called “universal background checks,” which also raise concerns within the firearms community about backdoor gun registration.
According to the Pew survey, “A majority of Americans (58%) say gun laws in the country should be stricter; 26% say they are about right, while just 15% say they should be less strict. Support for stricter gun laws has ticked up since 2021 and is at about the same level as in 2019.”
But Baltimore and Philadelphia already have strict gun control laws, yet it doesn’t appear those restrictions have prevented criminals from committing violent crimes. The metropolitan Baltimore area has already seen more than 140 homicides this year, according to data from the Baltimore Sun. Not all of these involved firearms.
Data from Philadelphia shows there have been more than 200 homicides so far this year, which is a decrease from 2022 at this time.
Returning to the Pew Poll, one thing that stands out is the stark contrast between Republicans and Democrats—and independents leaning one way or the other—on whether gun ownership makes people more or less safe. According to Pews, 79 percent of Republicans and like-minded Independents say gun ownership increases safety, while 78 percent of Democrats and Democrat-leaning Independents say guns make us less safe.
Another sign of division: “About twice as many Democrats as Republicans say it is “a very big” national problem (81% vs. 38%),” Pew Research revealed.
Politico, looking at the Pew numbers, is reporting that 60 percent of survey respondents “believe gun violence is a ‘very big’ national issue, up seven percentage points from 2018.” But is that concern contributing to gun sales? Raw data from the FBI’s National Instant Check System shows the number of NICS checks was down in June but still above the 2 million mark.
The Pew survey further revealed, “large majorities favor preventing mentally ill people from buying guns (88%) and increasing the minimum age for buying guns to 21 years old (79%).” Laws prohibiting young adults (ages 18-20) from purchasing guns, especially so-called “assault weapons,” are being challenged by various gun rights groups, including the Second Amendment Foundation, Firearms Policy Coalition and National Rifle Association.
Overall, 32 percent of Americans acknowledge they own a gun, which hasn’t changed much in recent memory.
Predictably, people living in rural areas as opposed to those in urban neighborhoods, have a far different view of gun ownership. As noted by Pews, “Views of gun ownership are also closely tied to where one lives, with those who say they live in rural areas about twice as likely as those who live in urban areas to say that gun ownership increases safety (65% vs. 34%). And those who personally own guns are nearly twice as likely as non-owners to say this (71% vs. 37%).”
However, all of this may be little more than a discussion for academics and politicians determined to use the data to push their personal agendas. Constitutional rights cannot be subject to popularity contests, rights advocates maintain.
This may be one reason why California Gov. Gavin Newsom recently proposed an almost certain DOA constitutional amendment mandating gun control. Early last month, Newsom proposed a 28th Amendment, which covers these tenets:
- Raising the federal minimum age to purchase a firearm from 18 to 21;
- Mandating universal background checks to prevent truly dangerous people from purchasing a gun that could be used in a crime;
- Instituting a reasonable waiting period for all gun purchases; and
- Barring civilian purchase of assault weapons that serve no other purpose than to kill as many people as possible in a short amount of time – weapons of war our nation’s founders never foresaw.
Most observers see Newsom’s suggestion as a publicity stunt, designed more to give him name recognition across the country than to bring about any change, as he may either challenge Biden for the Democratic nomination, or replace him if something happens between now and next summer’s Democratic National Convention prior to the 2024 elections.
About Dave Workman
Dave Workman is a senior editor at TheGunMag.com and Liberty Park Press, author of multiple books on the Right to Keep & Bear Arms, and formerly an NRA-certified firearms instructor.