J.D. Vance voices opposition to Senate gun reform framework

By: - June 16, 2022 3:45 am

COLUMBUS, OH — APRIL 23: J.D. Vance, candidate for the U.S. Senate speaks at the Save America Rally featuring the former President Donald J. Trump, April 23, 2022, at the Delaware County Fairgrounds, Delaware, Ohio. (Photo by Graham Stokes for the Ohio Capital Journal.)

In Washington, a bipartisan group of Senators appears to be on the cusp of a gun reform deal. Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell has even given his blessing to the framework, but a bit closer to home, Ohio’s Republican U.S. Senate nominee J.D. Vance says he wouldn’t vote for it.

“From what I’ve seen of this bill, I would not support it,” Vance said Wednesday on a Breitbart radio show. “I think the red flag laws, in particular, they certainly are a slippery slope. They also don’t solve the problem of gun violence.”

Vance also made a play toward COVID-skeptics, couching his opposition in concerns about government overreach.

“The big issue here is that we’re talking about giving a massive amount of bureaucratic power to federal and state governments after two years of basically seeing people abuse that power in a different domain,” Vance said.

The legislation itself has yet to be released, but Senate negotiators say they have an agreement in principle. That agreement includes resources to support states in administering their own red flag provisions, but it wouldn’t impose a federal program. The deal also includes enhanced background checks for gun buyer younger than 21 and enhanced penalties for straw purchasers.

Tellingly, not one of the 10 Republicans who are on board with the plan are up for reelection this November.

Vance conceded that the U.S. has a “high gun violence rate,” but pinned the problem on what he termed urban inner-city crime. He argued violence has been coming down for the last 30 years despite guns being more available.

“So, in some ways it’s not even accurate to call it a gun violence problem,” Vance said. “It is a violence problem that has gotten worse over the last few years, not because of more guns, but because of negative law enforcement.”

Building on data from the CDC and the FBI, the Pew Research Center notes that although gun murders and suicides have climbed sharply in recent years, the rates for both remain below their peak. The share of those incidents that involve a gun, however, did peak in 2020.

A report from the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Violence Solutions, meanwhile, found that states with the highest gun death rates, “tend to be rural states in the South or West with weaker gun laws.” The report notes the five states with the lowest rates have licensing or waiting period provisions for gun purchases and some form of extreme risk protection order, which are commonly referred to as red flag laws.

The majority of gun related deaths in the U.S. are suicides, and a study of Connecticut’s red flag laws suggests those provisions avert one suicide for every 10 to 20 firearm seizures.

Vance’s opponent this November, Rep. Tim Ryan, D-OH, took to Twitter to voice support for what he called a “historic step forward” on reducing gun violence. As he has throughout the Senate campaign Ryan also made a play for middle of the road voters.

“It’s also a testament to what’s possible when we set aside our partisan differences.” He said of the deal. “Now let’s get it done.”



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Nick Evans
Nick Evans

Nick Evans has spent the past seven years reporting for NPR member stations in Florida and Ohio. He got his start in Tallahassee, covering issues like redistricting, same sex marriage and medical marijuana. Since arriving in Columbus in 2018, he has covered everything from city council to football. His work on Ohio politics and local policing have been featured numerous times on NPR.