From: Neil Blanch (email@example.com)
Date: Wed Jan 02 2002 - 20:22:16 MST
In V6#364 "Some US observations & notes" Brian D Williams said:
"Here in Chicago, handguns are completely illegal and have been for 20 years
By the logic of the antigun folks, Chicago should by now be completely free
of handguns and violent crimes like murder should be non-existent. The fact
is that there are millions of handguns in the Chicago, 650+ murders this
year, and gun related crime is an everyday occurrence in certain
Yet the fact is (as any prosecutor here can tell you) is that the first
thing that happens when an offender gets brought to court is that the
weapons charges are usually dropped and the case is plea bargained."
Brian, I can think of a few reasons why Chicago's crime situation is so bad.
1. Whilst the availability of guns in Chicago has become more
difficult, it is no difficulty for a determined individual, particularly a
criminal, to simply cross state lines & purchase a gun in a state with more
lax ownership & sales restrictions. Gun restrictions will only really work
if they are applied on a federal (or better yet international) level.
Piece-meal approaches to gun restriction only seem to favour those who will
use such weapons for nefarious purposes.
2. The current US system of plea-bargaining seems to favour the
more hardened criminal. Example: a street level dealer (or "runner") is
arrested. It is highly unlikely that he will have worthwhile information on
his superiors & it is unlikely that he will be able to effect much change in
his charges by plea bargaining. Someone higher up the chain is arrested &
because they have more details on the overall supply system, they can
effectively plea bargain a more serious supply charge away in exchange for
that information. This is one of the reasons that the majority of people in
jail for drug offences (for example) are in for relatively minor offences
(mandatory "3 strikes" sentencing doesn't help much either), & the big
sharks are still out in the community, doing maximum harm.
I cannot claim to know what the best solution to the guns/crime problem in
the US. The issues involved are difficult, the pressure from various
interest groups so intense & the size of the problem so large, that no easy
solution presents itself. To my mind the gun availability issue plays a
major role in the problems that the US faces, however it is only one of many
issues that will need to be addressed if the US is to curb the horrific rate
of violent crime that afflicts the majority of the united states.
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