Enforcement is the solution to gun violence

The tragic surge in murders that struck Chicago over the July Fourth weekend has brought forward gun control advocates who want to hype the political battle between Michael Bloomberg and the National Rifle Association (NRA) yet again. The situation in Chicago is a tremendous tragedy, and gun control supporters are acting upon Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s famous advice to never let a tragedy go to waste. They are citing the violence in Chicago to offer misguided solutions that will only impact law-abiding citizens. But as a former deputy sheriff and member of Congress, I can attest that their proposed “solution” is anything but. 

Given my experience in law enforcement, I understand that the problem in Chicago, and other major cities with high crime rates, is not the absence of laws, but the lack of enforcement of the ones that already exist. According to Syracuse University’s TRACanalysis, Chicago ranks as one of the lowest cities for the number of federal prosecutions of firearm abusers. Criminals are well aware that current laws are not being enforced, and they can thus operate with impunity. 

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The irony is that Chicago is one of the last holdouts of strict gun control laws despite the clear rulings of the Supreme Court.  It could not be more obvious that these laws are not working.  Criminals acquire firearms through illegal means, and no city ordinance can or law will be able to stop them.  In fact, in recent years Chicago has had to pay millions of dollars in attorney fees to the NRA for stubbornly defending their unconstitutional restrictions in court.  And yet they do nothing to stop the violence.  Chicago’s onerous gun restrictions actually exacerbate the problem by preventing law-abiding citizens from exercising the right to self-defense. 

Gun control advocates celebrate the fact that Mayor Bloomberg is leading the gun control crusade and has devoted his immense personal fortune to stripping law-abiding citizens of their Second Amendment rights with his $50 million pledge to prop up his group “Everytown for Gun Safety.”  The name is new but the agenda is old and tired.  Despite his growing list of abject failures, Bloomberg continues to believe that throwing money at the problem can change the fact that lawmakers understand this issue better than he does. 

Bloomberg does not understand that congress members are elected to reflect the will of the people they represent. As a former member of Congress and a Second Amendment supporter, I can attest to the fact that the members who advocate for Second Amendment rights do so not because they are “craven,” but because their constituents support it.  It’s not a question of money; it’s the grassroots supporters who have a right to defend themselves and their families. And, it’s the grassroots supporters who should have a significant impact on their elected officials and rightfully so.

Bloomberg can continue to dump vast sums in supporting his gun control efforts, but he will never be successful because he does not have any substantial legitimate grassroots support.  The record is clear, even if his hubris makes him blind to it.  In early 2013, Bloomberg funded a massive effort to push gun control legislation in Colorado. However, the enactment of that legislation ultimately led to the unprecedented recall of two Colorado state senators, including the president of the Senate.  A third resigned to avoid being ousted.  Now, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) is backing away from the legislation, claiming that a member of his staff made him sign the bills into law. Bloomberg forced his agenda on Colorado and the people promptly responded.   Now, Colorado politicians are running away from Bloomberg and his agenda as fast as they can. 

If gun control groups actually aim to accomplish real change, they should focus their efforts on those who are actually committing the crimes. Criminals should never receive a “free pass” – Chicago is an excellent example of how the situation can escalate if criminals accurately perceive no consequences for their actions. As I have done for many years, including the over 17 years as a law enforcement officer, I will continue to advocate for enforcement of our laws. If towns, cities, and counties all across the U.S.  – dare I say Everytown -- effectively enforced existing laws against violence of all kinds, the outcome would look much different.

Adams represented Florida’s 24th congressional district from 2011-2013. She was a law enforcement officer for over 17 years in Orange County Florida.