Yesterday NPR put out a story, “Lawyers Band Together To Fight Gun Violence” based on an interview with Cy Vance, Jr., and Mike Feuer. Except these guys aren’t just lawyers. They happen to be the prosecutors of the two largest cities in the United States, Los Angeles and New York. Next week they are meeting in Atlanta with prosecutors from such other major cities as Boston, Miami, Seattle, Detroit and Houston to discuss strategies that all these cities and others can adopt to deal with gun violence.
If anyone thinks that such an event isn’t a major step forward in dealing with the 11,000+ gun homicides, 120,000+ gun robberies and 140,000+ gun assaults that occur each year, they better think again. Most of the gun violence that makes America the numero uno advanced country for gun crimes occurs in the cities and metro areas whose top crime-fighters will be at this conference. In a word, this is serious sh-t.
In their unending effort to keep Americans from passing gun control legislation, the NRA goes out of its way to cultivate good relations with law enforcement officials and cops. Except with one or two exceptions (the Detroit Police Chief, for example), this usually takes the form of getting sheriffs from rural and small-town jurisdictions to make public statements about the uselessness of gun control. Invariably, these sheriffs are Republicans, they are aligned with pro-gun national politicians and organizations in their own states and their opposition to anti-gun measures are no less politically-driven than their opposition to any other piece of the Democratic party line.
But when we talk about big-city prosecutors, we’re talking about a different breed of cat. These folks don’t develop anti-crime agendas at the ballot box, their success or failure is based on keeping their cities safe. And none of these prosecutors buy into the NRA nonsense that giving everyone a concealed-carry permit will get their job done. They know from long experience that public safety is always based on solid laws, aggressive enforcement and community support. It’s a triad that has been used again and again for all sorts of law enforcement concerns, and there’s really no room in it for debates about whether taking away my hi-cap gun magazine robs me of my Constitutional rights.
The last time there was a coordinated, national effort by law enforcement to deal with gun violence grew out of the Clinton crime bill passed in 1994. Nobody has yet been able to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the law was responsible for a 40% drop in gun homicides between 1994 and 1999, but it sure wasn’t because all of a sudden all the good guys were walking around armed with a gun.
Over the last fifteen years, beginning in 1999, the level of gun violence hasn’t gone up but it sure hasn’t gone down. And the number and severity of multiple shootings has certainly increased, no matter what NRA sycophants like John Lott would otherwise like to pretend. Even New York City, which saw the greatest drop in gun crime of any major urban center under Mayor Mike, has experienced a slight increase in shootings over the past year.
The appearance of a national effort by prosecutors to develop coordinated gun violence strategies has been paralleled by the recent emergence of another national organization, the National Network to Combat Gun Violence, representing city-level legislators from such cities as New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, Boston, Denver, Los Angeles, Dallas, Seattle, Baltimore, Albany, Berkeley, Jersey City, Madison, Yonkers, Newark, Hoboken, White Plains, Richmond, Mt. Vernon, Olympia and Indianapolis.
The NRA might want its membership to believe that if they walk around with guns in their pockets they constitute the front-line defense against violence and crime. But the truth is that the real good guys (and gals) are the people who are coming together at the legal, legislative and grass-roots levels to develop common-sense solutions to gun violence and gun crimes.