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“Islamic cleric Talib Shareef uses Arabic prayer to bless ‘United To Stop Gun Violence’ event at the Washington National Cathedral in D.C.,” LaughingAtLiberals YouTube channel informs. “Ironically, he goes on to make some sense in his speech, as he talks about the problems with the origins of someone wanting to turn to violence and crime in the first place, which is more sense than most of the speakers had that evening.” What can communities do to reduce “gun violence” — without resorting to ineffective and unconstitutional gun control initiatives?

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  1. Arrest those who commit violent crimes. And do not let them out of jail until they can demonstrate that they are no longer a threat to society.

    Period. No “mandatory minimums”, no “plea bargaining”. If someone is a violent criminal who is a danger to others, then they should not be on the streets.

    As for “overcrowded jails”, that’s easy — release everyone else. If someone was caught with a half an ounce of a natural plant in their possession, they do not need to be locked up in a prison! If they’re not a violent offender, get ’em out of jail, and fine them. Use the fines to pay for the jail system. Done.

    We gotta stop thinking about prison as a “deterrent” and start thinking about it as a public safety measure.

    • I like your plan, except one part. It’s “arrest them, prosecute them, and if convicted, do not let them out of jail until…”.

    • This type of “indeterminate sentencing” already exists in every state but it usually applies only to the most serious crimes like murder. The problem with it is who decides that the convict is no longer a threat. Usually it’s a parole board.

      I don’t know about you, but I hate parole boards.

      • Indeterminate Sentencing is common in Canada for sex crimes, and frankly it has always given me the creeps (pun intended). When a criminal is sentenced, he (and his victims, and the community at large) should know the length of his sentence, when he might be eligible for parole, etc. Whether the sentence is 30 days of 200 years, it should be known to all.

        With an Indeterminate Sentence, the safety of the community often rests on the parole board (or shrink) not dropping the ball every two years – and if they get it wrong just once . . .

        • I disagree strongly with the notion that someone should spend a set amount of time behind bars. That’s the system we have now, and clearly it’s extremely broken. Especially when you have for-profit prisons, in which the profit motive is to create more prisoners. It’s led to the USA incarcerating the highest percentage of its population of all industrialized countries. The USA has 4.4% of the world’s prisons, but its jails hold 22% of the world’s inmates.

          I say it’s time to rip it out by its roots and rethink the whole system.

          Bars should be there to lock up those who are too dangerous to roam the streets. If someone’s not dangerous, why do they need to be locked up in cages? Surely there are better ways to deal with ’em.

          And if they are dangerous, why the hell are they out on the streets? What degree of insanity is it to turn the next Willie Horton loose, simply because we arbitrarily decided that he should spend, oh, 365 days in prison as part of a plea bargain? Is he magically going to be “better” on that 366th day?

          Either someone is a violent recidivist predator, or they’re not. If they are, lock ’em up. If they’re not, why do they need to be locked up? In either case, what does a set, predefined period of time have to do with it?

      • Every member of a parole board should have a “One strike and you’re out!” allowance. If a parole board member votes to parole a prisoner who is at any time re-arrested and convicted that parole board member is finished and never allowed to sit on such a panel again.

        Same should be applied to Defense Attorneys. If you get your client off/not guilty on any violent crime and they are later arrested and tried again for any similar violent crime, you lose your status as an attorney in good standing, perhaps even your license. Defense does NOT mean using any possible trick to avoid conviction regardless of how obvious the guilt of the defendant.

        Ethics should demand both of these propositions.

        • It would be simpler to simply abolish the practice of parole, which would be the end result of your system. If parole board members were held responsible for the actions of parolees, they simply wouldn’t ever let anyone out.

          Likewise with the defense attorney thing – the end result would be a lot of people who couldn’t find anyone to defend them, and a mass exodus of lawyers from practicing criminal law to other specialties that don’t entail the risk your plan would create.

          Bottom line is, holding one adult responsible for the actions of another adult is generally a bad idea.

    • Even thinking of prison as a deterrent would be an improvement, instead of as time set aside for reflective contemplation of the concept of turning your life around, while provided, free, 3 hots and a cot. Not having been there, I am still convinced that prison is worthless as a deterrent, today. Do you punish your kids with summer camp?

    • So instead of elected legislators defining public and pre-determined sentences, we’ll have nameless, faceless bureaucrats exercising infinitely elastic and ever evolving personal discretion? No thanks.

    • This needs to gain more ground. I have been saying this for a while on my FB feed.

      However, the bleeding hearts ,of course, don’t like it because “OMG! RACISM!” and how it disproportionally affect minorities.

      I point them to the DOJ & FBI stats and simply say “Crime is a CHOICE. *MURDER* IS A CHOICE! Don’t choose to do illegal things. How is that racism? Unless of course YOU are suggesting that minorities can’t control themselves…. which sounds racist/bigoted to me!”


      Clear the gang-bangers off the street and watch how drastically the murder rate drops.
      When 6-6.5% of the population account for right at 50% of the murders…

      • End public/government sponsored welfare financed by stealing money from productive citizens and transferring it to non-productive citizens.

        Private welfare organizations should be encouraged and supported, as they were before the statist government decided they knew better when in fact all they were doing was buying low-information voters.

    • This.
      This strikes at the root of the problem. You can convict crimes more severely and all that jazz but the criminal mentality of having a criminal record BC it gives you ‘street cred’ or where joining a gang bc its more family than they have at home or it gives their lives a sense of structure. Address the source of the problem.

  2. Why don’t we address the convert or die problem or the rape problem or the siege your country problem first before we start giving advice to others…..huh?
    Some people need a little john paul jones in thier life….I have not yet begun to fight.

  3. Identify forensic labs that are backlogged and give them more funding to help improve their clearance rate. Assign more police patrols to high crime areas.
    Full agreement with prior responses re: releasing nonviolent offenders and warehousing the violent ones.

    • Create mobile police stations along the lines of a military TOC (Tactical Operations Center, for those without military experience). In any neighborhood where crime is rampant roll in a PD TOC and park it full view. Run foot patrols from the TOC until the BGs realize it is in their interest to move elsewhere, then follow them to elsewhere.

      Not a huge fan of police/LEOs, but if we must have them (and I cringe at the thought of our society if we had none), at least give them the chance to be effective where they are needed.

  4. The big thing to understand about violence (not singling out the “gun” variety) is that it’s a symptom at large, not a problem. This is stuff that can be done by a wide variety of people, part of the issue is that it won’t actually be seen in the short term so it makes it hard to keep people invested.

    -Education so people can get good jobs and understand that they’re not supposed to/don’t have to go out and be bad people. Although this should not be a primary job (see below) it definitely needs to be there for re-inforcement and as a fall back. This also includes forms of education that receive less glamor such as the trades.
    -Parents being parents to their children instead of letting said educators try to be the parents of children. People bitch about teachers being made to teach morals to children, but in a lot of cases who else is actually doing it?
    -Prosecuting people that hurt other people or enable people to hurt other people and keeping them in jail. Chicago seems to take the low ground on prosecutions typically and only go for “slam dunk” cases then plea them down.
    -Make it less burdensome on people who are law abiding to protect themselves. Firearms ownership levels the playing field in a lot of ways with people who would do harm to others. As I’ve said before, there have already been multiple justified shootings in Chicago this year, and it’s a trend I hope continues. At some point maybe people will get the message not to be STUPID and try not to hurt other people or take what does not belong to them.

  5. The answer is to make violence as a standard solution to disputes and problems socially unacceptable. The real question is how to do that.

    • We have a very good understanding of criminogenisis/the pathways to deviance, delinquency, and crime. And we are able to successfully test those empirically. The problem has always been developing solutions out of the empirical theories and findings. For instance, we know the social behavioral pathways that lead into extremism and terrorism. They are exactly the same ones as for deviance, delinquency, and crime; Techniques of Neutralization and Drift. Neutralization and Drift is part of the larger body of Social Learning theories, which are considered some of the most powerful explanations we have for deviance, delinquency, and crime. There is even a program that has been developed, the Social Development Model (in use in Washington state), for dealing with the deviance, delinquency, and crime issues. Whether it could be successfully adapted for extremism and terrorism is a good question.

      In other case where we’ve got a clear linkage between empirical theory and solution, creating a policy and strategy to implement the solution is where things often get hung up. This happens for a number of reasons. One has to do with the Federal nature of our system of self government: which level should take the lead, or if it is shared Federalism, which levels should do what when? Then the question arises of what level of success do you have to have in order to maintain the program? Is a 10% reduction significant enough or is anything under 50 to 60% efficacy just not worth funding as money needs to be spent elsewhere/wisely. And that’s before you even get to the question of whether raising the revenue and dedicating it to this kind of social effect program is feasible, acceptable, and suitable – the basic FAS test for all policy. Usually the hang up is not feasible or suitable, its acceptable: can you sell it to your constituents? How about the people that fund your campaign? If it winds up primarily benefiting urban and suburban areas, because that’s where the crime is, but your state and Federal political districts are set up to overrepresent rural areas, is it DOA because no one there wants their money/taxes benefiting the folks in the cities and suburbs. And that’s for a fairly non-controversial and intuitive concept like Neutralization and Drift or Social Learning.

      And all of this is before we even get to the issue that trying to solve/resolve these issues means taking a political and social weapon out of people’s hands. Politicians, their strategists and advisors, their funders/donors/patrons, and a whole host of policy analysts and commenters like being able to wield crime issues as both sword and shield, or given this site as gun and body armor. And the media certainly likes to profit off the advertising revenue. Quite often we know what to do/what the policy should be. Quite often we could fashion feasible and suitable strategies to put the policy into action. The problem is often the acceptability issues that arise from our domestic politics; political, social, religious, and economic beliefs.

      • I had a problem with Neutralization and Drift when I learned about it in college. The theory just didn’t match up with the people I knew that were committing crimes. Some decades later I have only added countless examples where the basic theory falls completely flat.
        The theory requires people feel guilty for committing crimes. It requires that the person who commits the illegal act admires the person that doesn’t.
        This is not the culture in much of the world, and is certainly not the culture that exists in much of the United States. I remember hearing “you aren’t really a man until you’ve done a nickel”, in my youth. To not act out of violence, to follow the law, is abnormal in these cultures and individuals are vilified and punished for otherwise “moral” acts.
        And the culture that accepts crime, specifically violent crime, as the normal and acceptable way to deal with anger, or poverty, or even just confusion, is the culture much of America has today. If we want to stop the vast majority of violence in America, turning that around is the key.

        • JWT,

          I can’t account for who taught it to you, but that doesn’t sound like Neutralization and Drift. Certainly not what I learned from Ron Akers during while doing my PhD and certainly not what I’ve used when trying to define the behavioral pathways into extremism and terrorism for JIEDDO back in 2011. What you’ve detailed doesn’t even sound much like the larger body of work that it is part of: Social Learning Theory, which is the most powerful empirical theory of crime, deviance, and delinquency that we have.

          If you want to take this up offline, or just want a copy of the unclass report I did for JIEDDO, RF has my email and I’ll be happy to push the latter to you.

        • JWT,

          The more I think about it, the more what you’ve described sounds like some of Braithwaite’s stuff on restorative justice. Or, possibly, some of the social control and bonding material.

        • Mr. Silverman, lord knows a couple of decades since school may have dimmed my memory. I would appreciate an additional discussion. I’ll reach out to RF. Thank you sir.

        • JWT,

          Please its Adam. Unless you want me to start calling you Sergeant Taylor (not sure if that should be SFC or SSG, but you get the idea). When you’re ready I’ll be here (sort of).

          The larger point still stands: this is a policy issue. And its hard to translate even good theoretical explanations into policy and even harder to get rid of the bad ones that have been the basis for policy, as well as the policies they inspired. Or good theoretical explanations that were translated into ineffective policies too.

          But even when and where we can do so we run into the process issues I touched on. And these are problematic enough given that most Americans don’t really understand the processes by which we do things at any level of government anymore, if they ever really did, or at what level they’re actually happening at or should happen at. And I’m pretty sure we would all agree, though perhaps we’d point out different examples, that many of our elected officials don’t understand the process either anymore. And all too often those that do utilize it as a weapon against their political opponents instead of using it to promote the general welfare. When we combine this with the longstanding American aversion to expertise and experts, it becomes that much harder to formulate effective policies, let alone develop proper strategies to achieve the policy goals. And as I mentioned above all too often this is because our domestic politics has placed far too many policy and strategy options outside of consideration as unacceptable for both domestic and foreign (defense, security, diplomatic, and development/economic) issues. This artificially narrows and constrains the options of policy makers and the strategists that support them and too often leads to bad results.

  6. Here’s a response that I emailed a friend of mine about this subject:

    The answers and solutions won’t be simple. But they need to be found and properly addressed. An analogy:

    Mosquito-Borne Disease Control: addressing the diseases as they occur in patients will only get you so far, because there will still be plenty of adult mosquitos still flying around carrying disease. Going after the adult mosquitos will produce short term success, but then they will be replaced by more adult mosquitos. They only way to almost completely eradicate mosquito-borne disease is to eliminate the breeding grounds of stagnant water. Even then, you still need to address those who might get the diseases, and take actions against adult mosquitos a little bit, because you can’t 100% eliminate breeding grounds, but you certainly can change the environment to reduce the occurrence of mosquitos.

    We as Americans need to change the environment. Looking at it as a gun issue ensures that the environment won’t change.

    Some final words on this. Incarceration isn’t an easy answer. When you remove some criminals without fixing the environment, it continues to produce new criminals, especially if incarceration creates vacuums within the criminal element.

  7. Two possibilities. 1) Stop using drugs, and stop tolerating those who do use drugs, even those in your family. Or, 2) Legalize and tax all drugs.

  8. As many have stated here, keeping violent felons in prison is the answer. In fact, even keeping nonviolent felons is the answer because most criminals released will commit more crimes.

    If you doubt this for even one second, just watch a couple episodes of Bait Car. Most of the people who steal cars, it turns out, have been previously arrested for… You guessed it! … Stealing cars! And most of the others have been previously arrested for other felonies.

    Half of the time the cops will say something like “It’s really good that we got this guy off the street.” What they failed to say, is “… for the next three weeks or so until he’s released again.”

    Repeat offenders need to be kept in jail. Catch and release programs might work fine for fish, they do not work well for criminals.

  9. Old Testament justice.
    Stole something? pay it back. Can’t pay? work it off as indentured servant of the victim until you have.
    Kill someone (other than self-defense): death. by the victims family.
    Rape someone? death. by the victim and their family. Or marriage forever, IF they agree, otherwise death.
    No need for jails, no incarceration, just bad people undoing the bad they have been caught doing or we end their ability to do bad to anyone again ever.
    You would (or maybe you wouldn’t!) be surprised how fast petty crime drops off when criminals are immediately executed or placed into slavery to the victims.

  10. Limiting the discussion to gun violence is the anti-gunners’ trick to create a fictitious difference between violent crimes perpetrated using firearms and equally violent crimes perpetrated by other means. I’m disappointed that you fell for it.

    • Absolutely. Drawing a distinction between “gun violence” and every other kind of violence is, to put it bluntly, stupid. If you’re bleeding out from a stab wound, you probably won’t be thinking, “Good thing I didn’t get shot.”

  11. Poverty, failing educational systems, systemic economic disadvantages, overzealous and biased criminal justice system (esp. with regards to the war on drugs), and lack of rehabilitation opportunities for those who have had contact with drugs or said criminal justice system.

    Did I miss anything?

  12. We could try eliminating the rampant use of SSRIs for children.
    We could try teaching family morals and taking our children to church.
    We could try taking money from billionaires who throw it away on gun control and give it to inner city community churches for social and outreach programs.
    We could increase emphasis on not getting pregnant before you are married and have a stable home.
    We could put violent criminals in jail for the maximum allowable terms and prosecute federal firearm laws.
    We could provide firearms training and firearms to those low income people who need them most.
    We could grow our mental health system and get liberals the help they really need.

  13. End welfare.

    Welfare creates incentives for very young women to have children out of wedlock. These children, raised in homes with no positive make role model, have been demonstrated to be far more likely to become criminals.

  14. You can admit, once and for all that the “Justice System” is broken. It’s actions/activities and concentrations come long after the fact and are extremely self-serving and self-dealing.

    It does not, and cannot protect you on the individual level, and it’s touchy-feely minutia make it too difficult to discern who’s working for whom [between Fed/State local DOJ and the bad guys].

    No one can protect you on the individual level, and the U.S.’s incarceration system only makes worse bad-guys.

  15. “Islamic cleric Talib Shareef uses Arabic prayer to bless ‘United To Stop Gun Violence’ event at the Washington National Cathedral in D.C., What can communities do to reduce “gun violence” — without resorting to ineffective and unconstitutional gun control initiatives? Have everyone become fundamentalist Muslims, join ISIS, then the USA will be as peaceful as Syria and Iraq.

  16. The Wild West could actually be a fairly safe place as compared to our modern society. We might want to dust off some history books and see what was going on back then.
    No one thing is the answer. Government is part of the problem.
    Multiple traditional American values, concepts, and institutions might help.

  17. 1) Update the education system to be more in line with Finlands. We are currently taking a middle road approach that has much unneeded stress and still performs poorly overall. School culture needs to be reworked from the ground up.

    2) Get rid of mandatory minimums, and transition form “lock’em up and throw away the key” into reform and teaching vocational or life skills. As long as we treat criminals who have been convicted once or even twice like black sheep, we prevent them from coming back into society fully and from even wanting to try.

    3) Revise drug policy. We need to take a multi-pronged approach. First, cut legalize drugs, but implement strict and stringent FDA style controls on them, like a food or pharmaceutical item. Secondly, make non-violent and unorganized drug dealing less penalized. In other words, make it so that people have a motivator to buy domestically produced clean and pure narcotics at cheaper prices without funding South American drug violence. Two birds, one stone. Cartels lose money and people end up with a safer end product.

    4) Add a federal category for people between the ages of 18-21 where they receive or can receive some of the protections of being a minor in a criminal case. If the government isn’t going to allow us to drink or buy handguns and stripped receivers, then in no way should it simultaneously abridge our rights and demand we be totally responsible. Interventions at this critical stage of life offer a significant way to help reform offenders before they commit serious crimes or get stuck on the path of a career crook.

    5) Expand access to mental healthcare as much as possible. As much as firearm violence is a serious issue in the US, murder is declining, and suicides are rising. Murder is actually at quite a low right now. It’s suicides that make up the bulk of our “gun deaths”, and the only way to really impact those is to get people the help they need when they need it without any stigma.

  18. Well well well the white dude with the stupid look on his face and the pink tie is none other than the Senator from Connecticut, Chris Murphy….


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