After the “town hall” hosted by CNN on Friday, January 8th, I had many thoughts. Most of them were not kind. But one thought has been stuck in my head since before gun control has taken hold of the headlines thanks to the tragic events in San Bernadino. How do we take practical and effective steps to reduce gun violence?
Most of my allies in this subject have only one answer, more guns! That is a piss poor solution. First of all, it misses the point of addressing the sorrow and grief felt by the families and friends of victims which in turn prevents the kind of discussion that can actually reach some kind of solution. Second, after spending a lot of time working with new gun owners and teaching them how to safely use a handgun it becomes obvious that while these peoples’ hearts are in the right place, the number one thing they lack is proper and sufficient training. I am an absolutist when it comes to my support of the 2nd Amendment and my fundamental belief that more liberties are far less dangerous to our Republic than more government. But I also understand that just putting a gun in the hand of a citizen doesn’t automatically make us all safer. Case in point.
But I do think there is one political issue that both Republicans and Democrats could come to an agreement on that would drastically reduce gun violence not only in this country, but in other countries as well, including Mexico where tens of thousands have been gunned down in horrific violence over the last several years.
End the War on Drugs.
What much of the Left likes to call “gun violence” is not gun violence, it’s drug violence. It’s the result of an unregulated and highly profitable market left to criminals which enjoys extreme profit margins that CEO’s around the world would kill for. The ultimate paradox of the Drug War is that the more difficult you make it for drugs to make it to their ultimate consumers, the more profitable the trade becomes which in turn makes the stakes that much higher, compounding the capacity for violence.
As a microcosm we should look to Chicago, a brutal exhibition of what gang violence can do to a city. Let’s examine the common rhetoric on both sides of the gun debate and where they fall short in explaining the true nature of the problem.
Pro gun people point to Chicago as a perfect example of the end result of extremely strict gun control. Remove the good guys with guns and the bad guys take over. That argument falls apart with just a few simple questions. First, who are the good guys and are they being shot? For the sake of this basic simplification, let’s just say that the good guys are the ones who are not dealing, buying or using drugs. Let’s say we arm a “good guy”. Is that good guy going to march into the ghetto and use his gun to stop a drive by shooting? No. Is he going to use his gun to prevent a drug deal from going bad? No. Is he going to strap on his iron and end the massive gang wars that are going on in the neighborhoods of the city? Absolutely not.
Second, if for all intents and purposes you pretty much can’t buy a handgun in Chicago, where are all these guns coming from? They are coming from less restrictive areas of the state, or nearby states. That is a cold hard fact. Increasing the availability of guns in the city isn’t going to magically make these gangs stop shooting at each other.
Third, and most importantly, why are these people shooting at each other in the first place? Is it because their “victims” are unarmed? With the amount of gunfire going on in that city, I’d bet that’s not the reason. It’s because they are fighting over drug money and drug territory. It’s business, and business is booming. Heroin in Chicago, as in many other parts of this country, is seeing a huge resurgence from where it was even just a decade ago. As an aside, we have untreated prescription opiate abuse to thank for that little gem.
So the typical pro gun arguments for why Chicago is suffering fall far short of explaining the issue, and the pro gun “solutions” stand little chance of slowing the violence.
The Democrats point to guns as the problem, completely ignoring the motivations behind hundreds of young men killing each other in the streets every year. Is there an epidemic of people snorting or mainlining Glocks? Can you go down to the street corner and watch hundreds of people spend $4 on a balloon of Ruger? As gun owners like to say, guns are just tools. The reasons the tools are used is the real issue here. Obviously banning the tools isn’t affecting the drug trade. If anything the War on Drugs is making those tools essential hardware for protecting one’s business. After all, are guns not the tools of war according to our dear leader?
What would happen if instead of focusing on guns as the problem or the solution, we turned our attention to the failure of the War on Drugs? What began as a crusade to protect our children from the horrors of Reefer Madness, Go Ask Alice and celebrity overdoses has turned into one of the longest, most expensive and bloodiest wars in history. And it hasn’t worked. At all. Drug use per capita has risen since Nixon first declared this shameful war in 1971. Drugs are generally of a higher quality and cheaper than they were in 1971. And the violence that we were trying to avoid has come anyway with a ferocity that no one could have imagined. What good has this war accomplished?
Reducing gun violence is something that furthers the goals of 2nd Amendment lovers, because it sucks the air out of many of the anti gun arguments. Reducing gun violence is supposedly a goal of the anti gun crowd so addressing the faulty public policy of the War on Drugs serves their interest as well. Colorado has experimented with a small segment of this issue and has had enormous success. The tax revenue in Colorado from marijuana sales alone should be enough to get both Democrats and Republicans to take a hard look at the potential for a change in drug policy.
The problem is that it truly seems that neither side is really interested in solving any problems, including the problem of gun violence. Solving problems doesn’t raise nearly as much campaign money as pointing out the faults of your opponent and promising to fix those faults.
God bless America.