Violence in America: Drug War Policy is the Problem, Not Guns
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President Barack Obama has reignited the gun debate by announcing a series of executive actions with the intent of curbing gun violence. To critics, Obama’s announcement is simply a mistake. To others, executive actions are sideshows, distracting the country from the actual problems tied to violence.
Despite the criticism, former Secretary of State and current presidential candidate Hillary Clinton says she’s “proud” of Obama. To the Democrat, more must be done in order to “eliminate all the threats as much as possible.”
Included with the executive actions are new requirements concerning background checks for guns bought from dealers online and at gun shows. The president also wants to upgrade the background check technology that would help federal officials track stolen weapons.
But despite the president’s passionate rhetoric, unregulated private sales usually benefit individuals who are prevented from owning guns but who are not necessarily purchasing weapons to commit crimes.
On the other hand, weapons used by the two attackers responsible for the deadly mass shooting in San Bernardino were bought legally, making Obama’s latest actions completely ineffective in similar cases.
But as media outlets and Internet figures debate the effectiveness of Obama’s plan, another piece of evidence provided by the federal government is consistently left out of the discussion. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the injury rates among crime victims who use guns to defend themselves are lower when compared to injury rates among victims who resort to different strategies for protection.
The $10 million study released recently by CDC suggests that the number of violent crimes, “including homicides specifically,” has been in steady decline for the past five years, and that the number of stolen guns linked to criminal use is very low. Most felons, the report suggests, obtain their weapons from informal sources instead of resorting to theft. The study also suggests that most gun-related incidents in America tend to result in injuries rather than deaths.
Yet another bit of information the president failed to mention during his announcement covers the rates of gun-related deaths. According to the study released through CDC, the majority of deaths caused by firearm use are suicides, not homicides.
Between 2000 and 2010, for instance, the number of firearm-related suicides outnumbered the number of homicides for victims in all age groups. The agency reports that 335,600 people died between 2000 and 2010 due to firearm-related violence, but 61 percent of these deaths, or 204,716 of these cases, were suicides.
If the president is serious about curbing violence in America, one could easily find reasons to take a look at other policies—such as the drug war—for a practical solution.
According to the study released by CDC, African American males are the most affected by firearm-related violence.
While the study suggests that income inequality is a risk factor that may predict violence, it fails to note that the drug war is mostly responsible for the high rates of arrests, prosecutions, and convictions among people of color.
Being serious about gun violence in the country requires vision, which President Barack Obama appears to lack.
As the drug war wages on, despite some states’ successful efforts against prohibition, inequality and economic tyranny continue to make gun violence an issue in America. Executive orders concerning gun use will do nothing to put an end to what the US drug policy has triggered.