For every person who fits the profile of the El Paso shooter, there are likely thousands who fit the profile of Maurice Hill, the man arrested for shooting six cops in north Philadelphia yesterday. Based on a quick look at court documents from Philadelphia and Delaware Counties, Hill has a rap sheet dating back to 2001 that includes charges for illegal gun possession, drugs, driving offenses, assault, burglary, theft, robbery, kidnapping, and attempted murder. However, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer, he was only “convicted six times on charges that involved illegal possession of guns, drug dealing, and aggravated assault."
Will there be any soul-searching trying to figure out why so many of these people wind up unconvinced, under-sentenced, and back on the streets? As the Inquirer put it, “his record would indicate, he does not like to go to prison. In 2008, he was convicted of escaping, fleeing from police, and resisting arrest. Along the way, he beat criminal charges on everything from kidnapping to attempted murder.”
Nope. Instead, they very people who have created the drive in the criminal justice system to let these people out of jail are pushing a war on guns for law-abiding people. Meanwhile, the criminals who illegally get guns every day in places like Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Chicago are never punished!
Most Americans understand that bad criminals do the most harm to public safety, not any single weapon or object. Yet the very people pushing a war on guns are the ones who support letting out dangerous criminal from prison. That begins with Lindsey Graham, who, as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, is now teaming up with Richard Blumenthal to push a “red flag” bill stripping guns from people without due process, without addressing the issue of locking up the actual dangerous people with criminal records. This is the “lock up the guns and let the criminals out” approach.
On February 15, 2018, the day after the Parkland shooting, the Senate Judiciary Committee passed a “criminal justice reform” bill in a vote of 16-5 with overwhelming bipartisan support. In addition to reducing mandatory minimums for hardened career gang members in federal prison, sections 104 and 105 of this bill would reduce the mandatory minimums for those charged with firearms violations during the course of drug offenses or other violent crimes. Crimes involving firearms were the third most common offense in the federal system in recent years.
Lindsey Graham, Richard Blumenthal, Dianne Feinstein, Chuck Schumer, Dick Durbin, Kamala Harris, and the whole cast of characters pushing to strip gun rights without due process voted to release gun felons who were convicted after painstaking due process.
Ultimately, the final “First Step” act passed last December didn’t contain these provisions to reduce sentences for gun felons, but it did reduce sentences for repeat drug traffickers, who, in the federal system, are often gang members who commit gun violence but plead down to drug charges. Moreover, the final bill had back-end early release programs that allow career criminals, including gun felons, to get as much as one-third of their time converted to parole.
But let’s not forget that these people wanted to go much further, and if not for people like Sen. Tom Cotton forcing changes to the bill, they would have reduced sentencing for those using guns in furtherance of drug trafficking – the most violent gun felons around. Even former Attorney General Holder agreed that retroactivity should not apply to those who received a mandatory minimum sentence for a firearms offense pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 924(c) or an enhancement for possession of a dangerous weapon under the sentencing guidelines.
Yet Ivanka Trump, who is now working with people like Lindsey Graham to promote gun control, was one of the driving forces behind the jailbreak bill and is continuing to push even more ideas to loosen penalties on federal convicts, who are often the most violent gun felons in the criminal justice system.