On the other hand I read in the paper or watch on the news the mayhem of
murder and destruction at the hands of those wielding guns to take others'
lives in movie theaters, public places, schools, drive-bys, back alleys and
sometimes just for initiation to join some street gang. I read about five
hundred murders in a city like Chicago where some of the toughest gun
restriction laws in the nation exist. Yet, the discussions of what to do
about it seem always to be centered around better background checks for
people who buy the guns, more time in jail or greater fines for those who
fail to report their guns being stolen, or a ban on the amount of rounds can
be put into a magazine clip.
It seems to me like there are two kinds of people who own guns: One kind is
that group who use the gun for hunting for food, or recreation of target
practice; or simply feeling safer to have it available for protection
against attack. This kind of person is willing to abide by the laws on the
books regarding acquisition and concealment of their guns. The other kind of
person is one who uses the gun to rob, kill people, intimidate others,
belong to a gang and usually will not abide by any law governing the
acquisition or concealment of that gun. When people have been apprehended
either during or after such crimes where they have used a gun, more often
than not the guns used in those instances have had their serial numbers
filed off indicating the perpetrator has had a motive to engage in that
behavior on a premeditated basis.
I wonder why the focus of the discussions of the problem of violence by
firearms always seem to gyrate toward the group of people who use the gun
for hunting, recreation or protection, and not toward the person who uses
the gun to rob, kill people, intimidate others or belong to a gang?
[to top of second column]
In cities like Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, Los Angeles,
Detroit, New Orleans and every other larger city in America, there
are police forces with divisions that focus on murder, gangs,
robbery, rape and kidnapping. Those police departments have
detectives that are infused into the population with their
informants and "inside" people in the gangs and cells of violence.
Why not "militarize" those "special forces" within the police
departments and focus on hitting hard those people who use guns for
violence, those people who are members of street gangs that create
violence and enforce the laws that are already on the books. Keep
hitting them hard week after week until the gang's will is broken
and they learn it is not to their advantage to continue with the
intimidation and violence.
Legislators should focus on passing and insisting on the
enforcement of laws that focus on stiff penalties for gang violence,
armed robbery and murder. The legislators should focus on the appeal
process and the loopholes, as well as the bargaining for "reduced"
sentences and lesser charges that puts the violent gang member back
on the street using the police front door as a revolving door. In
time, a real "deterrent" would evolve and the person who uses the
gun for violence would think twice before using it that way.
Further, legislators should enact laws that expedite speedy trials
in cases where the individual is caught "red-handed" using the gun
for violence. The legal maneuvers in such trials sometime last for
months or years before it is concluded. Oftentimes the person will
be given opportunities for "reduced" charges if they cooperate with
the authorities with information that implicates others' who may
have participated. A quick resolution to those kind of violent
crimes could serve as a deterrent to others who may be thinking of
the "copy-cat" crime.
If we continue to focus on the law-abiding citizens who use the gun
for hunting, recreation and protection while neglecting the persons
who use the gun for violence, the day will come when even the police
will not be able to provide protection for themselves, let alone the
citizens in the community.
[By JIM KILLEBREW]
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