The Corner

Elections

The Good Part of Joe Biden’s Gun-Control Scheme

Former Vice President Joe Biden speaks during the Democratic presidential debate in Houston, Texas, September 12, 2019. (Mike Blake/Reuters)

Joe Biden has a new gun-control plan, and it’s basically what you’d expect from a Democrat in 2019, with proposals ranging from “anathema to gun-rights supporters and thus politically unlikely” to “downright unconstitutional.” It would bring back the 1994 ban on “assault weapons” and pump it full of steroids — requiring people who already own those guns to choose between forfeiting them and registering them with the government. It would bribe states to require licenses to own guns. It would let activists sue the gun industry into oblivion. Etc., etc.

But not all of it is bad, and one proposal in particular has the potential to substantially reduce gun violence while leaving law-abiding gun owners alone. It’s this one:

TACKLE URBAN GUN VIOLENCE WITH TARGETED, EVIDENCE-BASED COMMUNITY INTERVENTIONS

Daily acts of gun violence in our communities may not make national headlines, but are just as devastating to survivors and victims’ families as gun violence that does make the front page. And, these daily acts of gun violence disproportionately impact communities of color. But there is reason to be optimistic. There are proven strategies for reducing gun violence in urban communities without turning to incarceration. For example, Group Violence Intervention organizes community leaders to work with individuals most likely to commit acts of gun violence, express the community’s demand that the gun violence stop, and connect individuals who may be likely perpetrators with social and economic support services that may deter violent behavior. These types of interventions have reduced homicides by as much as 60%Hospital-Based Violence Intervention engages young people who have been injured by gun violence while they are still in the hospital, connecting them to social and economic services that may decrease the likelihood they engage in or are victims of gun violence in the future. Biden will create a $900 million, eight-year initiative to fund these and other types of evidence-based interventions in 40 cities across the country – the 20 cities with the highest number of homicides, and 20 cities with the highest number of homicides per capita. This proposal is estimated to save more than 12,000 lives over the eight-year program.

I’ve written about these and similar strategies before. See here and here. There’s good evidence showing that they work, and they focus on specific individuals at severe risk of committing gun violence — not everyday people who own guns legally.

In the event of a Biden administration, Republicans in Congress should have a simple plan in mind: Work aggressively to pass this, cherry-pick a few smaller-but-still-worthwhile elements of Biden’s scheme to go along with it, and ignore the rest.

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