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"Ricardo "Cobe" Williams, wearing the cap, served time for attempted murder before joining CeaseFire as a "violence interrupter." Above, he talks with Lil Mikey in a scene from the documentary The Interrupters."" (photo and caption courtesy

Sometimes —  a lot of times — I wish the mainstream media would Google search their “gun violence” stories before shooting their mouths off. So to speak. If NPR had taken the time to research so-called “violence interrupters” — ex-cons charged with convincing gang bangers not to shoot each other — they’d discover two salient facts. First . . .

there is no scientific evidence (i.e., data) that violence interrupters interrupt violence. Second, a significant number of the convicted criminals involved with these multimillion dollar programs commit criminal acts while sucking on the taxpayer’s tit (e.g., Baltimore “Violence Interrupters” Caught Dealing Drugs, Possessing Illegal Guns). In short it’s a scam.

Well-intentioned, perhaps, politically correct, for sure, but a scam. The best way to reduce firearms-related gang activity: lock them up. OK, legalizing drugs might starve them of lifestyle-sustaining resources. But you can no more talk gang bangers out of gunplay than you can talk a 1911 fanatic into ditching JMB’s legacy for Gaston’s plastic pistol. If you know what I mean.

If you don’t know what I mean, check out You Can Stop Gun Violence The Same Way You Stop AIDS Or TB. It’s a highly edited Q&A with physician, epidemiologist and CeaseFire founder Gary Slutkin and Chicago “church leader” Autry Phillips [neither shown above], shilling for “violence interrupters.”

If I’m a young man with a gun, and I’ve just seen my best friend shot down by a guy, what do you say to make me stop shooting that guy?

Phillips: The best thing we can do is remind you of the consequences of pulling that trigger. Think past right now, and it’s two hours later. You’ve pulled the trigger. Someone else is dead, and now the police are looking for you.

So what I want you to do is think about mama right now; what would Mama have you to do? Would Dad be pleased with you right now? More importantly, how is this going to affect you two hours from now? I know you’re mad, but let’s take a walk right now, and let’s get away from the situation.

Hang on. “Now the police are looking for you”? Is Mr. Phillips harboring fugitives in the name of “gun violence” reduction? This is my surprised face. Anyone want to take a bet on the effectiveness of this “think of your mother” strategy, once reserved for police officers bull-horning criminals holed-up in a surrounded house.

Now how much would you pay? As I said, hard working, law-abiding Americans already pay tens of millions to these ex-cons (New York City Paying $12.7m to Unaccountable Felons to Curb “Gun Violence”).

But wait! There’s less!

Some people don’t believe that gun violence is like a disease, that killing people involves perpetrators and victims.

Slutkin: Victims and perpetrators are all victims. Someone who has active tuberculosis passes it on to his son. Is there a perpetrator and a victim in that case? That guy, he got the TB years ago from his friend, so was it conscious or unconscious?

You have people now in Iraq who are 15 years old, and for them, there’s always violence. Same thing in Afghanistan. And people who grow up seeing violence, they don’t know that it has anything to do with enemies or war or gangs. Violence is just normal, just like for some people, going to school is normal. But it’s only because that’s what you were exposed to. It’s not because it’s the only way.

And there you have it: the liberal/progressive dynamic that spawned this now-viral social welfare program — shooters are victims, too! The Violence Interrupters’ operating principle of personal responsibility is underpinned and undermined by the belief that it takes a village to make a shooter. It’s the logical, politically correct outgrowth of the victim mentality that informs virtually all social welfare programs.

Don’t get me wrong. There’s nothing wrong and everything right with using community pressure and individual intervention to try to stop the cycle of violence in crime-plagued neighborhoods. Nor am I fundamentally opposed to using ex-cons to do so. The problem here is . . . wait for it . . . the government.

Like all government programs, CeaseFire and its criminally tainted ilk lack any accountability. A proper study of their effectiveness – rather than the vague pronouncements and junk science fisked here – would reveal that they’re less effective than incarceration. Violence interrupter programs are designed to give politicians cover (we’re doing something!) and finance the criminal conspiracy between gangs and elected officials. You heard me. It’s an extortion racket, too.

Some historians argue that the end of segregation triggered the degradation of many large American cities into ghettos. “Black flight” – wealthier, successful, influential black citizens abandoning the inner city for the suburbs – left those cities without a moral core. Without social cohesion. Without economic engines.

That’s one theory. It’s certainly true that high profile leaders in many crime-plagued cities shamelessly exploit racial politics and play the victim card – rather than doing everything they can to provide positive role models and social constraints for their constituencies. That’s the kind of “community organization” that works. If that effort includes ex-cons, great! If it depends on them, it’s doomed to failure.

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  1. Asking NPR to give up Leftist causes is about as useful as asking your goldfish to take your dog for a walk. Not gonna happen. This is why I never give them money, and seldom listen unless I want to know what the Leftthink on the subject of the day is.

  2. The whole “think beyond the moment” technique makes it sound like they’re earnestly trying to equip adult criminals with the sort of moral education they should have received as toddlers and preschoolers. I know there’s only a certain window in cognitive development when things like language are really picked up. I don’t know if there’s a similar window for basic morality, but it wouldn’t surprise me if there were.

    • Yeah, if you’re a ‘grown-ass man’ and can’t think more than two hours in the future for any important decisions, there’s really no saving you.

  3. I am sure those in favor of violence interruptors won’t themselves wander into south central LA, or south side chicago, or the east side of Detroit, or North St Louis. At night. Unarmed. Just saying

    • Ah but they DO have a sort of “violence interrupters” Dirk-Guardian Angels. Guys hanging out with berets. Unarmed security theater. In some CRAPPY Chicago hoods too…they just don’t get paid(or make any difference)…

  4. Robert. Why doesn’t Fox run a story like this? Surely it would be great for ratings to expose gross government misspending and fraud benefiting (of all people) ex-cons.

  5. “Black flight” . . . left those cities without a moral core. Without social cohesion. Without economic engines.

    Those cities have one of the most powerful economic engines in the world — dope. The US drug market has been estimated at $250 billion to $700 billion per year.

    $700 billion is about the same as the market cap of Apple. But unlike iPhones, dope never goes out of style. It’s even supported by politicians, who make money on this Informal trade in pharmaceuticals. It supports the free world’s largest police force, several Federal agencies and every gang in the US.

    Big pharma loves it, too. Do you think that the makers of oxy and perc are unaware that more of their pills are sold illicitly than are sold legally with a prescription?

    So the only way to save millions of people from drugs is to change the way we deal with drugs. Which will happen in the reign of Queen Dick, because too many “good” people owe their financial existence to illicit drugs, as do the gangs who are doing all the killing.

    • Here in Detroit my wife and I participate in a community barbeque aimed at homeless individuals and the surrounding community members. One individual used to run drugs and made $35,000 a day. He was arrested and recently was released from prison. He hasn’t made an appearance lately but he was homeless because he didn’t want to go back to drug running, repeat would mean too much time for him. He had to fend off daily offers from his previous competition to get back in the game and said it was tough because two weeks work, even from the bottom, would pay for a roof over his head all winter. Last we heard he wasn’t running drugs anymore but started running guns.

      • $35,000 a day dealing drugs or minimum wage at Mcdonalds?

        Yep. Better keep the drugs illegal, they wouldn’t make enough to keep the bribe money to the politicians, the police and the judges flowing if they were legal.

        • Illegal drugs are not profitable because they are illegal. It’s because people want to get messed up so they can avoid real life. If you were to completely legalize EVERY drug no matter how bad or addictive the price would have to be low enough to prevent black markets (Colorado has this problem with their high taxes) and there would be production issues with demand.
          Society would suffer greatly with unlimited drug use, who pays for those problem? Or do we imagine it would be utopia?
          You can’t legalize just a few drugs either since the market would shift. Legalize everything and hoods will turn to new crime, they won’t get jobs like the rest of us.
          Then we’d have to legalize kidnapping and extortion.

        • Illegal drugs are not profitable because they are illegal.
          Tell that to the local drug dealer, of which I have known a few back in “High” school.
          Drugs are just like alcohol and tobacco and what we are going through is what society went through during Prohibition.
          I have known the sister of some brothers who were major druggies and her opinion was that the alcohol was worse than the drugs.

          • Depends on definition of ‘worse’ of course. Longer period of decline for alcohol. Drunks can have a 20-30 year run before liver failure kicks in coupled with lots of suffering. But drunks (I believe) cause more collateral damage to innocents than those on other mood altering chemicals. Think drunk driving, abusive relationships, damaged children, lost productivity.

            Snorted, injected, and swallowed drug users don’t seem to last as long. HIV used to kill a lot of IV drug users, but not sure of current mortality statistics given improved HIV meds.

            Drug users have a higher rate of serious crime too. A drunk would have trouble holding a pistol without shaking or stumbling. Am inclined to agree with your acquaintance Tom, but may be biased since most of my volunteer work is with drunks and those striving to become or remain ex-drunks.

            FWIW, the “cure” rate is pretty low too. High single digits to low double digits per

      • Fred, thanks to you and wife for trying to make a difference.

        Helping homeless, ex-cons, and those trying to get clean and sober (often all in one person) can be daunting. Part of the problem is ‘learned helplessness’ and a system that perpetuates dependancy. I do volunteer work at the Salvation Army and both jails. Many tell me they feel frustrated in trying to become independent.

        Those in low income/transitional housing, MediCal (CA medical program for the poor or indigent), receiving free job training, etc., tell me they feel trapped. Now I hear a lot of BS, but do feel there’s some truth in the matter.

        If they get earn enough to be self-sufficient, then benefits are slashed or eliminated. In effect, barriers are almost overwhelming in high-cost areas like Silicon Valley. Last-hired, first fired in case of layoffs is a major concern too.

        A friend in county mental health has a similar story. A number of patients in our county’s psychiatric facility can be transitioned into board and care or independent living facilities. But clients fear a budget cut could leave them stranded. Plus the psych facility operation is outsourced and the private operator doesn’t want to loose their clients / revenue stream.

        I don’t begrudge safety-net programs. I do begrudge trapping people in them.

  6. This whole idea stinks of the ’60’s Leftists’ faith that the racist/murderers of the Black Panthers would “reform” the ghettos. In the end, both the Panthers and these “violence-interruptors” have found another way to scam the government into paying for their illegal activities.

  7. Isnt it better if the lunatic left spins their wheels on this rubbish instead of pushing AW bans or coming after the other 99.99% of gun owners and users?

    They aren’t going away anytime soon, let them social engineer all over the people that love them and constantly ask them to do it to them in every election.

    Hey new concept ‘leftist interrupters’ Paying democrats to leave the rest of us alone.

  8. So what I want you to do is think about mama right now; what would Mama have you to do? Would Dad be pleased with you right now?
    Has this A-hole been hiding under a rock? Part of the reason there is this type of violence is that there is NO father-figure around to impart certain types of wisdom.

    • You beat me to it.
      The definition of mass confusion is the celebration of Father’s Day.
      Uh oh, I am a racist with White Privilege.
      Of course since the launch of the Great Society, single black family households has risen from 30% to over 70%.
      I love it when Liberal plans come together.

  9. I heard this program on the radio today. I tune into NPR when the BBC is talking international sports or something. I like their TED talks segments and laugh at some of their left leaning pieces, like the one on St. Louis suburban blacks going to prison because they didn’t pay a parking ticket and now “have no way out” because cops “prey” on them when they are handed legitimate tickets.

    This program was a complete advertisement. I was left scratching my head when there were no questions about the effectiveness of the program using any metric, the cost of the program, who is paying for the program, or even who was on the ground “interrupting” the violence. All they said was it was “effective in reducing gun violence” without ever backing that claim up. When they outlined their game plan I literally laughed. You’re going to talk to a hardened criminal and bring up their mama and that’s going to stop him from killing someone? Then they had the audacity to say it doesn’t work right away, that it takes weeks, months, and even years of talking to someone to see any results. I wonder if they’re tracking how many people that individual kills during that process. My guess would be no as long as the money keeps coming in.

    The good doctor explained his “TB theory” of gun violence and it made me really question his sanity. Picking up a gun and pulling that trigger after aligning the sights on a particular person is not a decision, it’s a series of premeditated decisions with clear intent, but the good doctor would prefer to say gun violence is passed around like TB because the data collected looks similar to infectious disease data when displayed as a graph. Are you kidding me?!? Coffee bean distribution appears identical to infectious disease data when presented graphically, does that make coffee beans an infectious disease? Furthermore, you don’t fight the spread of infectious disease by talking to it and pleading it doesn’t kill someone. There are so many logical gaps on the surface I can hardly express the sheer outrage that a “doctor” would say such a thing on national radio.

    • +1, Fred. The Cure Violence program is an exercise in the suspension of critical thinking.

      Dr. Slutkin is an epidemiologist. He approach seems a classic case of, “If the only tool you know is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail”. The results appear to be a Hawthorne Effect and not sustainable.

      I really wish this theory worked. I really do. But world history shows Slutkin doesn’t have a silver bullet. No evidence that the program is scaleable or sustainable or cost-effective.
      Tossing money at programs like Slutkin’s at least gives the impression that *something* is being done – although only a window dressing effort. I guess that letting errant youth kill each other off and redirecting funds in more effective endeavors is unthinkable.

      • “Tossing money at programs like Slutkin’s at least gives the impression that *something* is being done – although only a window dressing effort”. Sounds an awful lot like gun controls doesn’t it ? Gun turn in’s are a good example of a feel good program that does very little to curb violence. Another is making laws that keep law abiding citizens from buying, carrying guns or making them lock them up so they are ineffective for defense. All tactics to make the politicians look good but have little or even the opposite effect on crime and violence. But, hey it gets them votes, I guess. Because they keep doing those things.

        • But, hey it gets them votes, I guess. Because they keep doing those things….for the children…..

  10. These programs amount to theater and PR. As per usual they sell because they speak well to sound bites. There is no solutions, no measurable positive outcomes, just outcomes. Outcomes which are ineffective and waste time money and my intelligence.

  11. I have to disagree with you on a quick point. I think it would be easier to talk a gangbanger out of violence than convincing a 1911 fan to switch to Glock.

  12. The best way to reduce firearms-related gang activity: Have a city sponsored gang shootout contest at the local closed indoor shopping mall. The various gangs are given Fast and Furious guns and they start at different wings of the mall. A pile of drugs is in the middle of the mall stashed in the now closed water fountain lounge area. As the gangs progress towards the drugs, they shoot and kill each other. The winner gets the drugs and is pronounced King of the City. The the new City King is congratulated and is shot in the head with a .45 automatic pistol.

  13. TTAG readers should rejoice about the coverage of this program. Implicit in the creation and funding of this it the acceptance of the idea, “guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” This program may or may not be a good use of money and effort, but it addresses the people not the tools, and should be commended for taking a step in that direction.

    • +1. Great catch. “As reported by NPR, acclaimed humanitarian and noted physician Dr. Gary Slutkin has conclusively demonstrated that guns don’t kill people – people kill people. Dr. Slutkin’s compelling discovery is supported by funding from the State of Illinois, City of New York, and the US Department of Justice.

      NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre stated, “We welcome Dr. Slukin’s findings and endorsement by various local, state, and Federal government agencies that support the NRA’s long-standing claims.”
      Anyone have a PRNEWSWIRE account I can borrow?

  14. I wonder how many of these ex-cons get whacked? I don’t think I would approach a killer who is about to shoot someone and say “what would your mama think …”


    “That f**ker was talkin bout my mama, so I shot him yo honor!”

  15. NPR is a joke, it’s function is to provide statist propaganda with different voice inflections and accents, appealing to the pseudo intellectual.

  16. Progressives dont listen to National Propaganda Radio for the facts, but to feel good about themselves.

  17. The theory behind “Violence Interrupters” proved an utter failure when ‘pay for success’ was applied. See

    TL;DR version: Goldman Sachs kickstarted a similar program with a $9.6 loan 3 years ago. Investors would reap a return if the program proved effective. GS terminated it a year early because the program was failing.

    But what does “pay for success” imply, asks Indiana University Public Affairs professor Craig L. Johnson. “That right now [current government programs] we’re paying for failure?”

  18. It is a libertarian fantasy to think making Marijuana, crack or what ever made legal will solve a violence or prison over crowding problem.

    A man was killed for not paying the cigarette tax in New York City. The communist mayor of New York will not change the tax collection policy. People are arrested all the time for not paying the liquor tax for their back woods still operation. Do you really believe the average street drug dealer will with hold taxes on his sales ? The BATFE has a mission is to arrest tax cheats.

    This really about making some white libertarians comfortable and safe in their intoxication.

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