Keith Thomas Kinnunen, the shooter who killed two people at the West Freeway Church of Christ in Texas on Sunday, was not allowed to own a gun. Under current law, it was 100 percent illegal for him to own or carry any firearm. He had a massive rap sheet dating back to 1998, including gun felonies. Yet he wasn’t locked up. That is why he was able to kill two people in the church. Thank God, Texas allows citizens to carry concealed weapons, so he was stopped before he could shoot and kill more. But the ugly fact is that most mass shooters are repeat offenders and known to law enforcement. If we actually had criminal control, almost all of these attacks would be prevented.
If the Left really wants to prevent most mass shootings, how about we bring back and reinforce mandatory minimum sentencing on gun felons? Throughout Americans cities, so many violent offenders have rap sheets full of gun violations, yet they are not seriously punished. How about we start “doing something” about mass shootings by punishing people like Keith Thomas Kinnunen and not deterring heroes like Jack Wilson who stopped the shooter before he could kill dozens of others?
A quick glance at Kinnunen’s criminal record shows at least a dozen arrests dating back to 1998. Here is what I was able to piece together from his arrest and court records in several states, as well as from some local news reports:
Notice that despite numerous charges and convictions for assault with a deadly weapon and felony possession of a weapon, this man barely served time and was out on the streets to commit this horrible attack on the church this week. This is what should be the subject of a national debate – why there are so many people with serious violent felonies and firearms violations who are not punished in a meaningful way, and what can be done about it.
Criminals like Kinnunen are the rule, not the exception, in the system. Even the most violent criminals barely serve time. Just last week, an Oregon man who pleaded guilty to raping three teens was sentenced to just 14 months in prison, and with early release programs, he will be out even earlier. It used to be that violent criminals were held before trial in jail, serving as a deterrent. But across the nation, we are seeing judges release the most egregious repeat violent offenders on low bail. Last week, a previously convicted rapist with weapons and robbery convictions was arrested for torturing and raping a 21-year-old woman in the Minneapolis area, a beacon of jailbreak policy. He was released on just $20,000 bail.
Why are politicians not speaking out about the epidemic of under-sentencing and parole violators rather than complaining about too much incarceration? As Rafael Mangual of the Manhattan Institute observed last week at the New York Post, the most violent cities like Chicago and Baltimore are revolving doors for serious gun felons. “A third of Baltimore homicide suspects in 2017 committed their alleged offenses while on probation or parole, despite having an average of nearly 10 prior arrests. In Chicago, those arrested for shootings or homicides in 2015-16 had an average of 12 prior arrests.”
If we simply locked up those doing the shootings and beatings, it would prevent a majority of the homicides in the cities. Also, when younger criminals see those ahead of them serving hard time rather than being released with endless parole violations, they will be deterred from embarking on that path. To focus on the cost of prisons at the expense of public safety and the cost of crime, as politicians in both parties are now doing, is to breach the social compact of governance.
If Republicans were smart, Trump would urge Mitch McConnell to conduct votes in the Senate all year leading up to the election on mandatory minimums for gun felons. Most of the mandatories have been gutted by the courts over the years. It’s time to reinforce and expand them. Let Democrats, who obsess about gun violence, be caught voting against locking up violent gun felons because they don’t want to add to the prison population. The only effective form of gun control is criminal control.
Daniel Horowitz is a senior editor of Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @RMConservative.