Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Guns & Drugs

The Christian Science Monitor reports that the new major police effort to reduce crime is targeting illegal gun ownership; which runs up against the very old truth “When you outlaw guns, only the outlaws will have them”, or; enterprising criminals—and professional criminals are very enterprising—will always find ways to get guns, as they have always found ways to control drugs.

An excerpt.

“In the roll call room of Baltimore's Northwestern District Police Headquarters, a squat building in a neighborhood of liquor stores and crumbling row houses, photos of the city's most wanted suspects flash on a new, flat-screen TV.

“They are not necessarily drug kingpins or murderers or even dealers. But to Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III, they are top priority in this city with one of the highest homicide rates in the country; a city that residents occasionally, grimly, refer to as Bodymore, Murderland.

“They are, he says, "bad guys with guns." And he wants them off the street.

"If you start boiling down the violence in Baltimore – the homicides and the nonfatal shootings – you find that 50 percent of all the people we charge with those offenses have one thing in common: They have gun offenses in their backgrounds," Mr. Bealefeld says. "And we know that when bad guys get out, they get guns again. They don't work for IBM. They don't hand out Bibles. They stand outside with guns waiting to perpetrate another crime."

“And so, Bealefeld says, he has made it clear whom his officers should be targeting.

"I don't aim to make [it] all that complicated," he says. "Find out all we can about gun offenders and focus on those guys."

“After years of fighting the so-called "war on drugs" – the obsessive pursuit of everyone involved in drug crime, from users to dealers to suppliers – Bealefeld and other urban police chiefs nationwide are shifting their focus toward a new prime target: gun offenders.

“This law enforcement philosophy is born of the growing acknowledgment that millions of dollars and arrests have done little to slow urban America's drug trade, and that a fresh strategy is needed to further reduce violence in the country's toughest cities. From new gunshot-detection cameras in New Haven, Conn., to a gun-offender registry in Baltimore; from a Sacramento, Calif., law requiring gun dealers to notify police about people who buy bullets to a proposal approved by the Los Angeles City Council that would let landlords evict tenants convicted of gun crimes, city police departments and governments are putting new emphasis on fighting illegal guns.”