Control criminals, not guns

Posted on Jan 24 2013 - 3:11pm by Lacey Russell

Trenton Profile_BW

The Second Amendment does not protect the right to hunt; in fact, there is no right to hunt. What the Second Amendment does do is prevent the government from disarming its citizens, an act which would be a leap toward tyranny.
Thus, any legislation or policy that places an undue burden on a person to own — not to buy — a firearm is unconstitutional. The key point here is the amendment only addresses possession, not purchase.
A common question that pops up in the gun control debate is “What exactly can the government do in regards to control?”
The short answer is anything that the courts allow them to do.
Thus, since there is no concise answer to that question, allow me to pose a different one: Will increased legislation really affect gun violence?
Gun control debates pop up after tragedies such as the Newtown and Aurora shootings.
Interestingly, these debates always focus on mass shootings, misrepresenting the vast majority of gun violence.
In 2012, around 80 people were killed in shooting sprees, according to Mother Jones magazine. Using 2011 data from the FBI (2012 data has not been released), 8,583 homicides were the result of firearms. Thus, mass shootings accounted for 0.1 percent of all firearm-related homicides, yet 99 percent of the debate focuses on these.
The focus of the debate does not need to simply shift, it needs to be completely overhauled. The debate needs to pay attention to curtailing gun violence that affects some cities every day of the year, not just one or two seemingly random tragedies a year.
William Bratton, former commissioner of the New York City Police Department, is advocating such a shift in the debate. Instead of passing legislation that makes it more difficult to obtain firearms legally, Bratton wants cities and states to model the methods he used to lower crime rates in Chicago and New York, two cities with the harshest gun control laws and the most firearm-related crimes.
Bratton’s first point is to change the attitude of police forces from simple responders to crime to preventers of crime.
This led to New York police not overlooking minor crimes, such as prostitution, trespassing and turnstile jumping.
Not only did this “wake up” younger New Yorkers before they moved on to larger crimes such as robbery, battery or drug running, but it also established noticeable trends. One in seven turnstile jumpers had an outstanding warrant. One in 25 illegally carried a firearm.
Crime rates in New York plummeted under Bratton’s watch.
In 1998, two years after Bratton left the position with his policies firmly in place, murder rates were 70 percent below the rates when he took the commissioner post.
All of this was accomplished without legislation that placed hurdles in front of purchasing a firearm or regulating magazine capacity. It was accomplished without emotional pleas with little statistical backing.
It is time for gun control advocates to open their eyes to the reality of the situation and quit the petty bantering that focuses on 0.1 percent of the problem.

Trenton Winford is a public policy leadership junior from Madison.