McConnell complains about violent crime spike after blocking gun control laws for years


The jump in the number of murders Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is blaming on 'liberals' took place in 2020, under President Donald Trump.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell complained on Tuesday about spiking murder rates in 2020. But while he blamed this on Democrats and proposals to defund the police, he ignored his own role in blocking gun violence legislation.

In a speech on the Senate floor, the Kentucky Republican told colleagues, "Last year our nation saw a 30% jump in homicides — the biggest jump in the murder rate in modern history. The worst spike in the homicide rate in modern American history."

"Responding to this terrible trend should be very simple. It should be a no-brainer for elected officials at every level. More and better resources for more and better policing, for more and better community safety. Instead, liberal local officials across the country, from city halls and city councils to right here in Congress, have gotten caught up in the radicalism of 'Defund The Police,'" McConnell charged.

He made no mention of the fact that this historic spike occurred on then-President Donald Trump's watch. He also made no mention of the fact that the increase in the number of homicides has been smaller since President Joe Biden took office in January.

According to a report published by the New York Times on Sept. 22, analysts have suggested multiple potential causes for the increase in murders, including stress from the coronavirus pandemic, growing tensions between police and the communities they serve, and a rise in the number of people carrying firearms.

The vast majority of the homicides committed in 2020 — 77%, the highest percentage ever recorded — involved guns. The ongoing gun violence spike has coincided with a surge in firearm and ammunition purchases, according to CNN.

From 2015 to 2020, McConnell used his position as majority leader to block consideration in the Senate of proposals to curb gun violence, decrying any efforts to "politicize" mass shootings and "undermine" Americans' "fundamental Second Amendment rights."

In June 2019, he bragged about blocking proposals that had passed in the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives, including "gun violence prevention" legislation. "For the first time in my memory, I agree with Nancy Pelosi," he said after the House speaker accused him of turning the Senate into a legislative "graveyard."

"She's got it absolutely right," McConnell told Fox News. "I am indeed the 'Grim Reaper' when it comes to the socialist agenda that they have been ginning up over the House with overwhelming Democratic support, and sending it over to America."

Later that year, after deadly mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, McConnell briefly expressed a willingness to move ahead on legislation to expand background checks for gun purchases and "red flag" laws to temporarily disarm those legally deemed to be a threat to themselves or others. "Those are two items that for sure will be front and center as we see what we can come together on and pass," he promised.

But he quickly abandoned the effort, saying he would not bring any legislation to the floor unless he knew Trump was willing to sign it. By the end of 2020, the Bipartisan Background Checks Act was one of hundreds of bills he unilaterally blocked from even getting a vote.

Though congressional Republicans for years blocked gun violence research, studies in the United States and in other countries have shown gun violence legislation can reduce gun crime.

Polling has shown nearly universal support for background checks and "red flag" legislation.

While McConnell and other Republicans in Congress have — without evidenceblamed the increase in murders on Democratic officials and the "Defund the Police" movement, few cities have actually defunded local law enforcement, and the numbers of violent crimes have increased in GOP-run communities as well.

A handful of congressional Democrats, including Reps. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, have endorsed cutting law enforcement funding, suggesting that some police functions could better be handled by social service agencies. But most have opposed defunding efforts.

And through their American Rescue Plan, Biden and congressional Democrats provided $350 billion to help fund state and local governments. Many localities opted to use some of that money to increase police funding — at Biden's urging.

McConnell and every other Republican in Congress opposed that legislation.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.