National Rifle Association-backed (NRA) Project Exile was implemented and drastically cut crime during Tim Kaine’s tenure as mayor of Richmond, Virginia.
At the time of the program’s implementation, Richmond was giving Chicago a run for its money regarding gun violence. But the program brought stiff penalties for criminals with guns, even when the gun was simply in criminal possession, whether used in the commission of a crime or not, and crime decreased.
On February 10, 1999, The New York Times quoted Mayor Tim Kaine saying, “In Richmond, there has been an intense need for people to become believers in their own community. High crime has been our psychological downer. But Project Exile is driving the crime down, and that is starting to make Richmonders believe again.”
Project Exile was the brainchild of assistant U.S. Attorney David Schiller, and it was heavily promoted and pushed by the NRA. In the first two years of its implementation, “475 illegal guns” were recovered, and there were “indictments against 404 people in gun charges–more than six times the annual average.” The resulting conviction rate was “86 percent,” and the “average prison term [was] more than four and a half years.”
Under Project Exile, the number of homicides in Richmond fell to “78” in 1998. That was a 36 percent decrease from the year before. The Times described it as “one of the steepest declines in any city.”
In short, Project Exile took criminals off the streets. And when Hillary Clinton picked Kaine as her running mate, some warned that his past support of Project Exile could cause problems for the ticket. For example, Reuters was referencing Project Exile when it described that Kaine embraced “crime-fighting strategies that have driven up the U.S. prison population and are unpopular in the black community.” Campaign Zero co-founder Sam Sinyangwe said, “Project Exile broke black families. This is not a benign thing to be for. These measures were not used against white kids in the suburbs with guns, they were used against black kids in the cities.”
But Kaine supported Project Exile, and it served him well by lowering crime under his watch.
However, the same Kaine who supported Project Exile is now a vocal opponent of stop-and-frisk when Donald Trump suggests using the tactic to target criminals in Chicago. In the transcript of the October 4 vice presidential debate, published by The Washington Post, Kaine said, “Donald Trump recently said we need to do more stop-and-frisk around the country. That would be a big mistake because it polarizes the relationship between the police and the community.” Kaine also credited the drop in crime during his stint as mayor to “community policing.” In this, he is criticizing Trump for supporting the kind of policing that actually worked in Richmond, while subsequently claiming a more gentle approach to policing is what worked in Richmond.
As The Washington Times observed, “Tim Kaine didn’t tell the whole truth about crime in Richmond.”
People are dying at an unprecedented rate in Chicago while Kaine pushes more of the failed “community policing” that has proved impotent against criminals. He supported a different solution when he was mayor of Richmond.
AWR Hawkins is the Second Amendment columnist for Breitbart News and political analyst for Armed American Radio. Follow him on Twitter: @AWRHawkins. Reach him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.