This time last year, we were well into the border crisis, which has spawned a massive gang, drug, and criminal alien crisis, not to mention a huge fiscal drain on Americans. Republicans had control of all three branches of government and refused to act on anything from the border wall and drug cartels to sanctuary cities and transnational gangs. Fast-forward to a year later, and they still have done nothing, but they did give Democrats everything they wanted on the budget, which destroyed our leverage on every issue. Now, they finally found an urgency to act on public safety, but only in the exactly wrong way. They have now agreed to the entire premise of the Left on guns.
There is no middle ground. You either believe guns kill and that taking guns away from law-abiding citizens helps public safety, or you believe it is evil people who kill and that letting out bad guys from prison while taking away guns is a recipe for Baltimore. Republicans have long believed the latter, and the issues of guns and crime were the only issues where Republicans have held the line this past generation. Now, in one fell swoop, they have joined the Left on “criminal justice reform,” aka jailbreak, and are attacking guns as the source of the violence problem. The zeal they never exhibited to act on senseless murders committed by people who should never have been in the country is now evident in casting a wide net on constitutional liberties and due process.
In July, I called for Republicans to stay in session all of August to focus on a safety and security agenda for our border and to counter sanctuary cities. Now, while they didn’t decide to come back to town yet, GOP leaders have already tasked members with plans to immediately push for gun control in September, including bills to take away guns without due process while echoing and legitimizing the entire Democrat thesis on this issue. As Rep. Thomas Massie said on my podcast this week, so-called “red flag” laws will violate due process for a large number of people. This is all about going after objects, not dangerous people.
Republicans failed to push a safety and security agenda with suburban voters for years and refused to hold Democrats accountable for their increasing hostility toward locking up criminals. They refused to hold them accountable for letting out criminal aliens, including child sex offenders, rather than deporting them from our communities. They refused to utter a peep over one MS-13 mass murder after another when prosecutors said they are directly related to the border flow. They refused to push action on enforcing current immigration laws when one innocent victim after another was needlessly murdered because sanctuaries released already known violent criminals in defiance of numerous ICE detainers. Now, they’ve ceded the entire security agenda to the Left.
Billy Chemirmir, a Kenyan national who overstayed his visa, is now accused of killing 19 people, almost all elderly women, most of whom he killed with nothing more than a pillow. That is almost as many fatalities as in the El Paso shooting, and police suspect there may have been more victims. This was done by someone who should never have been allowed to stay in the country. Even after he found a way to get status, he was arrested for multiple DWIs and assault resulting in bodily injury. He should have been deported. Yet not only is there no inquiry from Mitch McConnell or the Trump administration into what legislation could be passed to close “the criminal alien loophole,” they won’t even talk about this, so no American even knows it happened.
If Republicans would relentlessly focus on these cases as much as Democrats focus on their agenda, the American people would see the absurdity of legislating on objects, when the real issue is going after bad people, especially those who could easily be removed from the country. There is not a single law anyone can point to that would have prevented the El Paso shooting. But simply enforcing immigration laws on someone known to law enforcement numerous times could not only have prevented 19 murders, he could have been completely removed from the country.
The Democrat position is clear. They want open borders, endless cartels and MS-13 in our communities, sanctuary cities, to abolish prison, to abolish ICE, and unvetted migration from the Middle East, and yet they want to take away guns from law-abiding citizens. But what is the GOP position? Rather than holding Democrats accountable for these views and pushing the exact opposite agenda, they offer a faint echo for the Democrat agenda. Why would voters turn to the GOP if both sides admit that gun control is the key to security and one side is doing it more reluctantly?
Republicans need to return to Washington immediately and promote a safety and security agenda rooted in locking up criminals and protecting the right of law-abiding Americans to arm themselves. They should push one vote after another on the following ideas:
The last point provides Republicans with an easily articulated alternative to the Democrat position of “disarm the public and let criminals out of jail.” Nobody can say with a straight face that a single one of the proposed ideas on gun control and red flag laws, which will implicate First and Second Amendment rights as well as basic principles of due process, would have done anything to stop these attacks. Bad guys are still going to get guns. Once a bad guy has access to a gun, what is the point of banning the right to carry – even from the liberal perspective? Why would anyone intent on committing mass murder be dissuaded from carrying a weapon to the place he plans to commit the atrocity? It’s only law-abiding citizens who will listen to those laws, which is a recipe for disaster.
That has always been the position of the Republican Party. Why are they incapable of going on offense now? They need to push right-to-carry legislation and repeal gun-free zones, which would be comical if they weren’t so tragic.
There is no greater opinion poll that market forces. People vote with their pocketbooks. The reality is that women are the fastest-growing demographic of gun owners. There is also an increase in inquiries for concealed carry permits following the shootings. Clearly, people want to feel secure and have the ability to defend themselves now more than ever. Now is the worst time to run from a self-defense agenda and cede safety and security to the party of anarchy.
Sadly, Republicans refuse to raise outrage over sanctuary cities, gangs, and cartels. They refuse to raise outrage over the drug crisis plaguing so many suburban families as a result of empowering the cartels with open borders. And when it comes to being tough on crime, Republicans have downright agreed with Democrats on the need to empty out the prisons rather than shaming Democrats for their position. Thus Republicans have destroyed all their ammo in this fight.
Republicans have won on the issue of security for decades. It has been the last issue holding the party together after they essentially ceded every fiscal and social issue to the Left. For them to lose on security with suburban voters would be the final act of malpractice rendering this party beyond worthless.
Daniel Horowitz is a senior editor of Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @RMConservative.