Ever sit around and wish that a public figure actually stood up and called out the problem for what it is?
Lieutenant Governor Winsome Sears is out there doing just that, calling a spade a spade when it comes to Richmond’s rising tide of violence.
Virginia Democrats have responded to last week’s tragedy at Monroe Park which killed 2 and wounded 17 with the usual tropes. Blame guns — which if one believes other leftist tropes about fearful gun owners clinging to their firearms and Bibles, you might wonder why all of rural Virginia isn’t some dystopian hellscape.
Instead, the dystopian hellscape seems to be centered in polities where Democrats are imposing their own utopian visions of a safe and secure society only to discover their policies are delivering on neither safety nor security.
Predictably — and worse than predictable, boring — the editorial boards of Virginia’s newspapers have decided to target Lieutenant Governor Sears for daring to demand answers:
“This is not about law-abiding gun owners,” [Sears] said. “This is about gangs. This is about … the others who mean harm, who mean to kill and [maim]. … Who is in charge? Is that the mayor? Is that the chief? Let’s start naming names.”
Agreed. We should be naming names of who’s responsible for allowing unfettered access to high-powered weapons, who resist any attempt to enact reasonable restrictions on purchases, and who wouldn’t even listen to proposals earlier this year to require that firearms be locked up in homes with children.
Or maybe we should listen to the Virginia State Police, who recently released their 2022 Crime in Virginia Report:
- Murder is up 10 percent.
- Kidnapping is up 9 percent.
- Human trafficking offenses are up 17 percent.
- Weapons offenses are up 6 percent.
- Simple and aggravated assaults are up by 6 and 4 percent respectively.
All in the last three years after Virginia Democrats slackened the law to let more felons out of prison, reduce sentences, and make it harder for police to do their jobs.
Meanwhile, the temerity of the Virginian-Pilot to scold the lieutenant governor on the impact of lawlessness in black communities? Again — back to the VSP report, where the victims of murder and other violent crime were disproportionately black.
Need more depth? More than 76 percent of the victims of murder or non-negligent manslaughter in 2022 were black, with only 23 percent white. Some 47 percent of violent crime victims were black, while only 18 percent of Virginians are black.
Now I’m just spitballing here. Something tells me that Winsome Earle-Sears has a bit more authenticity and sincerity when talking about the impact of crime and lawlessness in black communities than the well-heeled liberals of the Virginian-Pilot.
The Virginian-Pilot: Victims of a Public School Education (And It Shows)
The nation is awash with firearms. The approximately 334 million Americans own nearly 400 million guns, more than any country on Earth, which includes about 60 million purchased during the pandemic.
So easy are they to get that children, with alarming frequency, bring them to school, such as in January when a first-grader shot his teacher in Newport News. So pervasive are they that people routinely attempt to bring them on airplanes. The Transportation Security Administration found 6,542 firearms at 262 different airports last year, a new record.
So in a nation of 331 million people with 400 million firearms, the number this writer trots out — whose public school education clearly failed them — is 6,542 incidents at 262 airports?
The number is 0.0000197643504532%.
Firearms are the leading cause of death for Americans aged 1-19.
Considering all children, ages 0-17, the correct information from the CDC is as follows:
Congenital abnormalities: 4,860
Short Gestation: 3,141
Motor Vehicles: 2,462
So why did the Virginian-Pilot feel the need to include adult 18-19 year olds?
Oh that’s right…
In 2021, nearly 48,000 people in this country died as a result of a homicide or suicide by firearm. The United States has recorded more than 275 mass shootings this year and it’s not even the midway point in 2023.
Top 10 leading causes of death in the United States according to the CDC?
- Heart disease: 695,547
- Cancer: 605,213
- COVID-19: 416,893
- Accidents (unintentional injuries): 224,935
- Stroke (cerebrovascular diseases): 162,890
- Chronic lower respiratory diseases: 142,342
- Alzheimer’s disease: 119,399
- Diabetes: 103,294
- Chronic liver disease and cirrhosis : 56,585
- Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome, and nephrosis: 54,358
Let’s talk about mass shooting incidents, which have been relatively stable since the 1970s when you account for population growth. The recent uptick correlates with the movement by progressives to defund the police in the wake of the 2020 Summer of Love BLM/Antifa riots.
In other words, Winsome Sears is right. Again.
Yet when a shooting happens, Republicans trot out the same tired arguments.
Yet once again, the evidence in the face of a two misguided policy agendas — disarming the public and then leaving them to the tender mercies of gang-related violence — is staggering so as to be invincible. Tired arguments? Most certainly, but invincible nonetheless.
Just to drive a stake into the heart of this political vampire once and for all, let’s take a look at deaths by firearms in the United States. From Pew Research:
What share of U.S. gun deaths are murders and what share are suicides?
Though they tend to get less public attention than gun-related murders, suicides have long accounted for the majority of U.S. gun deaths. In 2021, 54% of all gun-related deaths in the U.S. were suicides (26,328), while 43% were murders (20,958), according to the CDC. The remaining gun deaths that year were accidental (549), involved law enforcement (537) or had undetermined circumstances (458).
What share of all murders and suicides in the U.S. involve a gun?
About eight-in-ten U.S. murders in 2021 – 20,958 out of 26,031, or 81% – involved a firearm. That marked the highest percentage since at least 1968, the earliest year for which the CDC has online records. More than half of all suicides in 2021 – 26,328 out of 48,183, or 55% – also involved a gun, the highest percentage since 2001.
Our actual number here? 20,958 deaths due to violent crime involving a firearm.
Automobile fatalities? 38,824 in 2020 according to the US government.
Needless to say, the Virginian-Pilot doesn’t give two whits about the facts. There are only two considerations: (1) does it advance progressive ideas, and (2) does it protect Senate Democrats. Not to mention (3) does it harm Virginia Republicans.
Yet the plain facts — tired as we are of trotting them out — speak for themselves. Disarming law-abiding citizens doesn’t fix violent crime by one iota. In fact, by their own admission, it is making Virginia communities less safe. Either we trust one another with our inherent rights as Virginians — or we don’t.
Virginia Democrats Made Virginia Safer for Violence and More Violent for Families
That’s silly talk.
So what changed? 2022 was the first full calendar year where Virginian began to feel the full effect of so-called Democratic policing reforms.
Now we can see the impact — and it’s clear that these policies are hurting the very communities they were meant to help.
Even progressive localities such as Roanoke are begging the Virginia General Assembly to roll back the policies championed by the progressive left, for the precise reason that they do not work, they make violence more likely, and make families and communities less safe.
Winsome Sears is right.
No one wants violence in our communities, but treating symptoms without addressing cures gives us neither safety nor security.
The first maxim held sacred by every free people, so the saying goes, is to observe the laws. Virginia’s progressives set down that charge, and as a result are discovering that a lawless violence is a far more cruel master than the presupposed injustices of our American legal system.
Meanwhile, common sense Virginians of every stripe should be both unafraid and objectively cool to any argument seeking to strip ourselves and our citizens of our inherent rights — whether that is self-defense or free expression. If one doubts the link between our 1A and 2A rights, I submit the authority of those who have deeply thought on the question and determined otherwise:
It is error alone which needs the support of government. Truth can stand by itself. Subject opinion to coercion: whom will you make your inquisitors? Fallible men; men governed by bad passions, by private as well as public reasons. And why subject it to coercion? To produce uniformity. But is uniformity of opinion desireable? No more than of face and stature. Introduce the bed of Procrustes then, and as there is danger that the large men may beat the small, make us all of a size, by lopping the former and stretching the latter.
What has been the effect of coercion? To make one half the world fools, and the other half hypocrites. To support roguery and error all over the earth.
Rather than use the heavy hand of government to correct what the heavy hand of government broke, may I suggest an alternative?
Freedom — and a little bit more trust in our neighbors to exercise our rights without tolerating either the tyranny of those who know better or the license of those who abuse their rights (the Latin ab- meaning “away” and the Latin usare meaning “exercised toward its proper purpose” with the word ab-use literally meaning to use an object for an improper purpose).
Enough panic. Let’s focus on Richmond and ask why the slackening of law enforcement has caused the uptick of violence, and then commit ourselves to the solution that works: respect for the laws. Maybe then we can start addressing the other questions of poverty, the failure of public education, and the lack of accountability which Sears emphasized so brilliantly last week.
Until Senate Democrats are willing to have that discussion in the public discourse? There is only one remaining avenue to have that conversation, and November cannot come fast enough.