by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
As their party pushes for gun control measures, some Democrats are seeking to reframe the national rise in crime as a gun issue — even though increasing violence has seemingly little relationship to gun laws.
Much of the Democratic rhetoric surrounding the need for gun control continues to focus on the specific threat of mass shootings in the wake of back-to-back massacres in Uvalde, Texas, and Buffalo, New York.
But some of it has pivoted to the more general problem of gun violence, for which Democrats have presented gun control as the answer.
“The pace of everyday gun violence has dramatically escalated over the past two years,” Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) said Sunday on ABC’s This Week.
When we’ve had over 200 mass shootings in our country already and we are barely in June, let’s all agree, we got to do something, and it’s within our power to do it,” Vice President Kamala Harris said on Saturday.
Harris appeared to cite a figure from the Gun Violence Archive that has popped up frequently in recent Democratic messaging. The number, however, includes gang violence, burglaries, and other crime-related shootings that have little to do with the cold-blooded attacks of the past several weeks.
“It’s a quirk of our politics in this country that crime is seen as a Republican issue and gun violence is seen as a Democratic issue,” David Hopkins, political science professor at Boston College, told the Washington Examiner.
“There is certainly a political interest in framing gun-related crime as something that Democrats have the answer for rather than Republicans, and to frame it as an issue about gun regulation,” Hopkins said.
Violent crime has spiked significantly over the past two years. In 2021, homicides nationwide rose 44% over 2019 levels, according to the Council on Criminal Justice. Some cities saw even greater increases since the start of the pandemic.