Pelosi: Dems Will Act “Boldly and Decisively” on New Gun Laws

Dems are pushing for Canadian style gun control, but is hasn't worked so well up north.

Notoriously anti-gun congresswoman Nancy Pelosi is expected to be Speaker of the House in 2019.
Notoriously anti-gun congresswoman Nancy Pelosi is expected to be Speaker of the House in 2019.wsj.com

Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said House Democrats will aggressively push new gun control laws when the Democratic majority takes over the House next year, according to a report by The Hill.

"The new Democratic majority will act boldly and decisively to pass commonsense, life-saving background checks that are overwhelmingly supported by the American people," Pelosi, who is slated to become the Speaker, told Politico.

Rep. Mike Thompson (D-Calif.) leads a Democratic task force focused on gun control, telling Politico he will introduce a universal background check bill that would require federal background checks on all gun sales, including private transactions. "It will be strong legislation to expand background checks, and I will have a very respectful show of [co-sponsors]. I think you will see it happen in the first 100 days."

The bill, or any like it, is unlikely to become law, thanks to the Republicans holding a solid majority in the Senate, which is sure to push back on any such measures put forth by the House. It’s as if House Democrats are taking cues from Canada, which has a long history of gun control. Unfortunately, the Canadian system has its own failings.

A report in the National Review details a few of these issues, including how failing to recognize past failures dictates calls for more restrictive legislation and how politicians prefer grand gestures over measured policies. It also concluded that long term and secondary consequences are rarely considered.

As the National Review points out, American politicians often cite Canadian gun laws as the country has a far lower murder rate. But a closer examination reveals the "consequences of hasty, emotion-driven gun legislation."

In 1995, Canada passed a bill requiring Canadians to obtain a license for each firearm, and register them with the government. It took six years to implement the program, with less than two million gun owners signing up for licenses as of 2001. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police reported error rates of 43 to 90 percent in applications and registry information, and 4,438 stolen firearms were successfully reregistered without alerting authorities—one man even successfully registered a staple gun.

When the program was disbanded in 2012, the cost had jumped to more than C$2.7 billion, despite estimates that said it would only cost C$2 million. The Canadian homicide rate did drop since 1995, but not as much as it did in the U.S., which didn’t have the same draconian gun laws. In the same period, the rate of handgun homicide increased in Canada, despite almost half of all legally registered handguns being banned through a reclassification process.

Banning guns fails to address the root cause of violence, which in Canada's case are gangs. From the National Review, "a 20 percent increase in Canadian homicides between 2013 and 2016 was driven by an astonishing 68 percent increase in gang-related homicides over that period. In 2016, 54 percent of all firearm-related homicides were gang-related. Unfortunately, the problem may still be worsening, as gang-related homicides increased by 15 percent in 2017." But it's far easier to ban guns than it is to deal with the complex issues that drive gang violence, and it seems to keep voters happy as well.

Americans would be well served to keep a weather eye on our neighbors to the north, in hopes that we don’t make the same mistakes they do when it comes to firearm policy. We can learn a lot from their mistakes.