- - Monday, April 12, 2021

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step,” says an oft-quoted Chinese proverb. Sometimes, the first step should not be taken, though, because it is pointed in the wrong direction. Attempting to stem a mounting surge of gun violence, President Biden has tightened firearms restrictions and urged Congress to take even more ambitious action. Instead, he should be tempering his inflammatory insistence that America is a deeply unjust nation. Exonerating violent social upheaval while sanctioning self-defense can only lead to more blood in the streets.

On Thursday, the president signed executive orders calling for regulations governing the sale of self-assembly handgun kits — so-called ghost guns — and stabilizing attachments that make pistols more accurate. He also directed the Justice Department to craft model “red flag” legislation that empowers authorities to remove firearms from the possession of unstable individuals deemed a danger to themselves or others.

These measures are a mere preface for more extreme gun-grabbing ambitions, such as Senate passage of three House-approved bills closing “loopholes” in background checks of gun purchasers. To hear Mr. Biden tell it, ne’er-do-wells are strolling into gun shows and purchasing tools for murder and mayhem with no questions asked.

There are plenty of gun laws on the books already, with the toughest ones in cities where gun crimes are most horrific. They don’t keep Americans safe, though. Sadly, because bad people use firearms to prey upon good people, the good need guns to defend themselves. If the malevolent were not committed to shooting up and burning down the communities of the peaceable, the bullets would not be flying.

Racial tension erupted last summer in the wake of George Floyd’s death in police custody, and the twin scourges of dissidence and violence have persisted since. In Chicago, 298 victims were shot during the first three months of the year, up from 165 last year. In Los Angeles, 64 persons were killed by gunfire during January and February, a 39% increase over the same period last year. In New York City, murders have climbed more than 15%. Nationwide, homicides surged 37% in 2020, according to a report from the Major Cities Chiefs Association.

It should surprise no one that gun sales subsequently have exploded as urban police are defunded and citizens are largely left to their own defenses. The FBI conducted a record 3.9 million background checks for gun purchases in December 2020, only to see the figure surpassed with 4.3 million in January.

When Mr. Biden makes such blatantly inflammatory statements as “systemic racism and white supremacy are ugly poisons that have long plagued the United States,” as he did last month, Americans hear not the uplifting of Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream of a colorblind society, but its trashing. With word and policy, the president is pushing the nation into the line of fire.

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