Last week, the House Committee on Oversight and Reform conducted a hearing that purported to examine the history and current state of voting rights in America. Witnesses testified that Texas’s free voter ID cards, for example, are too burdensome on the poor and on minority communities, particularly blacks.
If free voter IDs create such a hardship, why don’t we hear more complaints about the various fees and expensive IDs that are required to own a gun and pass a background check?
Until 2017, it cost $140 to obtain a concealed handgun permit in Texas. In Washington, DC, it costs $125 for a background check to buy a gun. A firearm license adds $75, and registering a gun adds $13. Want a permit to be able to carry your gun? Add another $75.
“Any law that makes it more difficult for eligible voters to vote is a problem,” witness Marcia Johnson-Blanco told the committee. But when asked if all of the firearm fees might prevent impoverished DC African Americans from legally obtaining a gun, she answered: “I don’t know the answer to that question.”
Diane Nash, another Democrat witness and founding member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), testified that free voter IDs “primarily impacted poor blacks.” But when asked about whether all of the fees for obtaining a gun in DC might stop those same people from being able to protect themselves, she demurred: “I am not sure what that would be.”
The third Democrat witness, Thomas Jenkins, gave the same answers. He insisted that it wasn’t even proper to compare voting rights with the right to buy a gun, calling the entire line of questioning “bait and switch.”
Many people who just want to protect themselves and their families would disagree.
Jenkins claimed, “Let the record show that no one has died because they were denied a gun.” Presumably, he thinks that the poor should be satisfied with dialing 9-1-1 and hoping for the best.
His claim is simply false. For example, Nikki Goeser, a former employee of Congressman Massie, suffered the tragic consequences of a gun-free zone law. Nikki left her permitted concealed handgun in her car before entering a gun-free zone, but her stalker didn’t care about the law. Nikki could do nothing but watch while the stalker murdered her husband with a firearm in a “gun-free zone.”
Last year, Kate Nixon (a compliance manager at the Virginia Beach municipal center where a tragic mass shooting occurred) was concerned about a fellow employee. The night before the attack, she told her husband that she wanted to take her permitted, concealed handgun to work. But because the municipality prohibits possession of “any weapon” on city property unless authorized by a supervisor, Kate decided against it. Unlike his law-abiding colleagues, the killer didn’t abide by the ban. The next day, Kate Nixon was one of 12 people killed in the attack.
Although the list of cases such as these are endless, these examples receive little or no mainstream media attention.
This issue is close to home for some congressmen. In 2017, a man attacked Republican congressmen during their baseball practice. At least five congressmen present had concealed handgun permits from their home states. An aide also had a permit. But the District of Columbia’s gun regulations at the time barred them from carrying permitted, concealed handguns.
High fee requirements for firearm permits and IDs demonstrably affect firearm ownership rates. In Indiana, 18 percent of adults have a concealed handgun permit. In contrast, neighboring Illinois has a rate of just 3 percent. This dramatic difference is because until last year, the total cost of obtaining a concealed handgun permit in Indiana was $50, while in Democrat-controlled Illinois, the total cost is at least $400. Furthermore, Illinois permit holders are overwhelmingly affluent, suburban white males, but in Indiana, urban minorities who often live in high-crime areas (and who stand to benefit the most from concealed carry) commonly have permits.
Democrats seem to want votes from impoverished urban minorities, but Democrats aren’t looking out for these citizens’ best interests. Everyone has the right to self-defense and defense of their families. And while police are crucial to fighting crime, police officers themselves know that they virtually always arrive on the scene after the crime occurs.
There have been too many times in our nation’s history when African Americans couldn’t depend on law enforcement for protection. Just look at the South after the Civil War. But at least at that time, they generally did have guns for self-defense.
As a result of all of today’s hefty fees, in some states, only well-off people will have protection.
John Lott is the president of the Crime Prevention Research Center and the author most recently of “The War on Guns.” Thomas Massie represents Kentucky’s Fourth Congressional District and is chairman of the Second Amendment Caucus.