Gun Rights

Anti-Gun Hysteria Illustrates How Monstrosities Like the 1994 Crime Bill and the War on Terror Come to Pass

You can take advantage of a culture of fear but so can your opponents



The Senate voted down four separate gun control proposals earlier tonight, leading to much hand-wringing by liberals, who have ratcheted the rhetoric up to eleven in order to take advantage of the emotions surrounding the Orlando massacre to get the gun control measures they've always supported passed.

That tact requires certain dangerous misrepresentations of reality. Just this weekend, the Department of Justice said it would redact references to the Islamic State (ISIS) from 911 calls from the Orlando shooting, so as not to "further his propaganda." Tonight, to further their own propaganda, Democrats literally accused Senate Republicans of selling weapons to ISIS*. The Obama administration has mostly avoided overstating the threat ISIS poses in a way that would make it easier to push a more intense intervention in Iraq and Syria, but Democrats are happy to overstate the threat posed by ISIS to curtail Americans' rights.

The Fourth and Fifth Amendment have long been popular targets in such exercises, the addition of the Second to the mix by Democrats isn't particularly surprising. Yet, once people are riled up over a threat presented by the ruling class to push through one set of policies, there's nothing to prevent those in power from using the same emotions to push through different policies. If Republicans are arming ISIS, Democrats are importing them. Democrats' professed support for refugee-friendly immigration policies offers no guarantee that the fearmongering in which Democrats are engaging doesn't also make other arguments based off the same fear more potent.

More broadly, Democrats have been pushing the idea that the United States is a uniquely unsafe country, a primary justification for their anti-gun policies. Liberal pundit Touré, like many others, framed the issue as one between a powerful gun lobby and "the dire need to address our horrific gun violence epidemic." Yet, as David Harsanyi pointed out on Twitter, the homicide rate has been on a decline, and is the lowest it's been since 1963.

The hysteria on the left, troubling in the way it focuses on the systemic deprivation of constitutional rights, is illustrative of how such policies have passed in the past. It was only a few months ago that progressives were excoriating Bill Clinton (and Hillary) for his support of the 1994 crime bill, identified as a primary driver of increased incarceration rates in the 1990s and 2000s. Supporters of the 1994 bill, like then-chair of the Congressional Black Caucus Kweisi Mfume, tried to whitewash their support of the bill. Hillary Clinton was lambasted for comments she made at the time about "super predators" that threatened safety in inner cities. Gun homicides are down 49 percent since their peak in 1993.

Crime rates were higher in the early 1990s, when the crime bill was being debated on and passed, then it is today. Yet despite the attention criminal justice reform received during the Democratic primary process, some of the same voices who faulted the Clintons for creating a climate of fear in order to implement policies that systematically violated the constitutional rights of marginalized communities are today creating a climate of fear in order to implement policies that systematically violated the constitutional rights of marginalized communities.

*This issue is swimming in so much hypocritical bullshit I almost forgot the rich relevance of this: "ISIS armed with U.S. weapons"