By Max McGuire
New Jersey – -(Ammoland.com)- They say that rabid dogs stop barking just before they bite.
When it comes to federal gun control, the failure to overcome a filibuster in the Senate earlier this year hurt the gun control’s momentum (at least until the next election cycle).
Yet even with the midterm elections far off, gun-grabbers, your elected representatives, are already bringing a laundry list of horrible gun control bills before Congressional subcommittees.
Congressmen Danny K. Davis (D-IL07) and Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ09) recently introduced H.R.3018, also known as The Gun Violence Prevention and Safe Communities Act. One would think that such a progressively named bill would target illegal gun owners (the perpetrators of most gun crimes).
However, like other gun control proposals, H.R.3018 deliberately targets law abiding gun owners and ignores the root causes of gun violence that plague our nation’s most dangerous cities.
H.R.3018 would amend the tax code and increase excise taxes relating to firearms purchases and transfers. This increase in tax revenue would then be delegated to police departments already plagued by budget cuts. In a press release, Rep. Pascrell explains that “all across our country, local police departments have had their budgets slashed and been forced to lay off officers, reducing their ability to protect our communities from the scourge of gun violence.” The increase in tax revenue would, allegedly, add much needed revenue to help police departments nation-wide better combat issues of gun violence.
It is generally understood that citizens must give up natural rights in return for protective services provided by the government. In his Second Treatise on Government, philosopher John Locke argues that while man is endowed with a seemingly unlimited number of natural rights, he willingly surrenders some of these rights to government in return for protection. In the Lockean State of Nature, an individual who is stolen from would be completely justified in seeking retribution. But in a civilized society, this right is surrendered in the hope that government would provide these punitive services.
How does any of this eighteenth century political philosophy apply to today’s gun control debate?
Well, the answer is simple. In New Jersey alone, the state and local police forces have utterly failed to meet the security needs of the citizenry. The City of Camden, New Jersey, for example, has a murder rate that is twelve times the national average. Newark and Trenton, two of New Jersey’s most populated cities, also share some of the highest violent crime rates in the country. Yet even as violent crime rose in these cities, budget cuts forced a dramatic reduction in police operating budgets. The dramatic layoffs, spurred by the recent economic recession, directly led to a decrease in arrests and an increase in reported crimes. From 2009-2011, the number of arrests in Camden decreased 47.4%. However during this same period, the homicide rate in Camden increased 47.1%.
These statistics show that lower police budgets directly led to a decrease in arrests and an increase in homicides. Any objective observer would admit that during this period, the Camden police department failed to meet its responsibility to protect the citizenry.
The Camden Police were so far in the red that they were actually recently disbanded and replaced with a cheaper, non-union county police force.
FBI data also shows that New Jersey had 112% more Firearms Background Checks in 2012 than it did in 2008-9. Obviously these are just a limited number of statistics, but they show that as police budgets were slashed and violent crime increased, more citizens turned to gun ownership as a means to protect themselves.
The Davis-Pascrell Gun Violence Prevention and Safe Communities Act wrongfully treats civilian gun ownership as one of society’s problems. The government has proven woefully ineffective in combatting our nation’s violent criminals, whether one wants to blame lax enforcement, judicial leniency, or the decades-old ‘War on Drugs.’ According to the Office of National Drug Control Policy, the Federal government spends $500 every second waging the war on drugs. That spending is unsustainable. We surrendered our natural rights in return for promised protection, and the government has dropped the ball. As a result, many civilians must now defend themselves to fill the void left by the gutted police forces. Now, Reps. Davis and Pascrell are proposing an increase in firearms purchase and transfer taxes to fix the problem. H.R. 3018 essentially tells citizens that they must once again surrender a natural right in the hope that still-underfunded police forces will meet the responsibilities promised so many times before.
The saying goes that when seconds count, the police are minutes away. In cities like Camden, and Trenton, and Newark, police response times can be upwards of an hour (if they respond at all). It is unconscionable to increase taxes on firearms only to rely on the same police strategies that have failed time and time again. Rep. Pascrell claims that H.R.3018 institutes changes that reflect the “long-term societal costs of gun and ammunition purchases in our country.” But what the congressman fails to comprehend is that in many cases, the firearms and ammunition purchases he so strongly condemns are only necessary because of decades of failed government policies and societal decay.
GovTrack predicts that H.R. 3018 has a 1% chance of getting past committee and a 0% chance of being passed in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives. Obviously with these slim odds, this bill is receiving little, if any, media attention. But that has not stopped organizations such as the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence and Moms Demand Action from supporting it. There is really no way to understand the reason behind H.R.3018’s taxing of law abiding gun owners in order to punish hardened criminals and it would be foolish to expect any logic. But there would be outrage if someone suggested taxing fire extinguishers in order to fund fire departments. That’s because fire extinguishers are widely accepted as useful tools.
The fact that Reps. Davis and Pascrell refer to this firearms tax proposal as an ‘excise tax’ proves that they see lawful firearm ownership as a sinful pleasure and not a valuable tool for self defense.
About SanityPolitic’ Max Mcguire;
Max McGuire is currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Political Science at Villanova University. He graduated from Boston College, majoring in Political Science and minoring in Arabic Studies. Follow him on Twitter @SanityPolitics