While acknowledging polarized camps exist, do sensible solutions exist?
1. Improve Education
We can start with safe storage and public safety campaigns but we should also train people how to deal with a live shooter. We train kids and adults how to deal with tornadoes and hurricanes, but are less consistent on how to deal with an attacker. Most school plans are centered around a lockdown strategy and much more effort should be put into how that’s executed based on each individual campus. Civilians and security guards as well need strategies for dealing with an armed assailant. The police can also do community outreach.
2. Changing Law Enforcement Strategies to Address Illegal Guns
The data varies, but estimates of how many guns used in crimes are obtained illegally range from 79% to 97%, meaning the vast majority of crimes are committed with guns obtained illegally. Millions of guns are obtained in burglaries.
Illegal gun trafficking has to be addressed on more than one level including better access to dealer inventory and more stringent rules for who can sell guns. While we have the right to bear arms, there is no right to be a commercial dealer. Law enforcement should be able to access information that manufacturers and dealers (including international) are legally required to keep with a warrant or just cause. In Kansas City and Pittsburgh, controlled crackdowns on illegal gun activity led to huge decreases in gun crime.
3. End the War on Drugs
Estimates of how many homicides are directly related to illegal drug trafficking run as high as 50%, not to mention related property crimes.
Noah Smith wrote in The Atlantic:
“[With a] vacuum in legal regulation; instead of going to court, drug suppliers settle their disputes by shooting each other. Meanwhile, interdiction efforts raise the price of drugs by curbing supply, making local drug supply monopolies (i.e., gang turf) a rich prize to be fought over.
Ending the drug war would involve reducing all of these incentives to murder. Treating addicts in hospitals and rehab centers, instead of sticking them in prisons, would reduce demand for drugs, lowering the price and starving gangs of income while reducing their incentive to wage turf wars. Decriminalization would relieve pressure on our prison system, allowing us to focus on keeping violent people off the streets instead of pointlessly punishing drug users for destroying their own health. ”
4. Prison Reform
Smith continues, “stuffing our overcrowded prisons full of harmless, hapless drug addicts forces us to give accelerated parole to hardened killers.” We have one of the highest rates of incarceration in the world and a prison population that’s increased by a factor of 8 in the last 30 years.
Stephanos Bibas points out via The National Review:
“The criminal-justice system and prisons are big-government institutions. They are often manipulated by special interests such as prison guards’ unions, and they consume huge shares of most states’ budgets. And cities’ avarice tempts police to arrest and jail too many people in order to collect fines, fees, tickets, and the like.”
The prison-industrial complex perpetuates a cycle of intergenerational failure by destroying families without rehabilitation and wasting billions of taxpayer dollars on policies that make things worse. Fortunately, this is at least one issue that has the kind of support from different camps that we rarely see.
Both President Obama and the Koch brothers have declared prison reform to be a priority and are joined by the Justice Action Network, a coalition of strange bedfellows including the ACLU and NAACP, as well as the Faith and Freedom Coalition and Americans for Tax Reform. State reforms aimed at reducing prison populations have already lowered imprisonment rates and seen a corresponding drop in crime rates while cutting costs dramatically.