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OPINION

Biden's Political Biases on Crime in His SOTU Endanger Public Safety

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
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AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

President Biden’s State of the Union address contained many false and misleading claims about crime and guns.

Biden: “COVID left other scars, like the spike in violent crime in 2020 – the first year of the pandemic.”

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Indeed, violent and property crimes fell in 2019 and surged in 2020 and 2021 after the COVID virus hit. But the surge was due to the policies that liberal politicians and judges followed, not COVID per se. Crime increased as police budgets faced cuts, as liberal District Attorneys refused to prosecute violent criminals, as bail reform let dangerous criminals back on the street, and as liberal judges released large numbers of young, healthy criminals from prison. A large academic literature shows that the riskier it is for criminals commit crime, the less likely they are to do so. But, unfortunately, many politicians don’t understand that, and these policies have made it safer for criminals to commit crime, so we have seen a lot more of it.

Biden: “Joining us tonight is Brandon Tsay, a 26-year-old hero.  . . . He now works at a dance studio started by his grandparents.  Two weeks ago, during Lunar New Year celebrations, he heard the studio’s front door close and saw a man pointing a gun at him.  . . . In that instant, he found the courage to act and wrestled the semi-automatic pistol away from a gunman who had already killed 11 people at another dance studio.  He saved lives.”

Was Tsay heroic? Yes. But would Biden have honored any of the heroes who used legally carried guns to stop similar attacks? No. These heroes rarely receive national news coverage, but they have stopped no fewer than 37 would-be mass public shootings since January 2020. These dramatic, heroic cases rarely receive national news coverage.

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Tsay would have been a lot safer if he had used a permitted concealed handgun to stop the attack. The problem is that in Los Angeles Country there is only one permit for every 5,660 adults. In San Mateo County, where the other attack occurred, there is one permit per every 24,630 adults. By comparison, in the 43 right-to-carry states, there is one permit holder for every nine people.

Unsurprisingly, concealed handgun permit holders don’t stop mass public shootings in states such as California or the six other very restrictive states. But they do make a difference in these right-to-carry states. When Americans are allowed to legally carry concealed handguns, they stop about half the active shooting attacks in the US.

Biden: “Ban assault weapons once and for all. We did it before. I led the fight to ban them in 1994. In the 10 years the ban was law, mass shootings went down.”

Semi-automatic rifles are not the most frequently used weapon in mass public shootings. Fifty-five percent involve only handguns, and only 11% solely involve rifles of any variety.

It should be little wonder that banning “assault” rifles accomplished very little. Under the 1994-2004 ban, there was no drop in the number of attacks with “assault weapons,” and virtually no change in total mass shootings.

But Biden wanted his audience to believe otherwise. “In the 10 years the ban was law, mass shootings went down,” he claimed. “After Republicans let it expire, mass shootings tripled.” In fact, even studies paid for by the Clinton administration couldn’t find statistically significant changes in the number of attacks.

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Biden’s claim that mass shootings tripled relies on one researcher’s unique definition – a definition that includes fights between drug gangs over turf. But even with gang shootings included, there is no statistically significant change in the number of attacks with assault weapons. Instead, the increase in non-assault weapon shootings drives the growth in attacks. The percentage of attacks with assault weapons fell once the ban became obsolete – just the opposite of what proponents of the ban would expect.

Biden: “Joining us tonight are the parents of Tyre Nichols, who had to bury him just last week. . . . I’ve never had to have the talk with my children – Beau, Hunter, and Ashley – that so many Black and Brown families have had with their children.”

The Memphis police officers clearly murdered Tyre Nichols. The police continued to assault him after his hands were tied, and when he could no longer resist arrest. But black families should tell their kids the same thing as any other family: obey police orders. Even if you think that the police are wrong, you should follow their orders and leave it to the next stage in the legal process to sort things out.

But Tyre didn’t obey the police. He assaulted the officers and ran away from them. It is very likely that Tyre would still be alive if he had obeyed police orders when his car was initially stopped.

Conclusion

Biden’s misrepresentations have real consequences and endanger safety.  By refusing to criticize the liberal District Attorneys who won’t prosecute violent criminals or the liberal judges releasing criminals from jail, Democrats are unwilling to address those problems. He is constantly injecting racism when discussing policing in ways that only create more distrust and anger and drive police to quit their jobs, which in turn drives up crime rates. His obsession with gun control makes him focus on regulations that won’t stop gun crime and ignore those policies that would make a difference.

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Unfortunately, Biden has continued to put politics and ideology above people’s safety.

Lott is the president of the Crime Prevention Research Center and the author most recently of “Gun Control Myths.”

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