Gun control advocates are in a bit of a pickle at the moment. After all, their entire agenda requires armed agents of the State to enforce their gun control laws, even when that enforcement leads to large numbers of young black and brown men going to prison for non-violent possessory offenses. At the same time, there’s a growing chorus of voices calling for everything from reforming police departments to abolishing them altogether. What’s a gun control advocate supposed to do?
Washington Post columnist Robert Gebelhoff thinks he’s found the answer: advocate for both police reform and sweeping gun control measures that would require an even more militarized approach by law enforcement to disarm American citizens. In a new column headlined “No police reforms would be complete without gun reforms,” Gebelhoff tries his best to lay out the case for sweeping gun control laws in the name of reforming law enforcement agencies around the nation, even while he reluctantly acknowledges the limits of simply putting new laws on the books.
None of this is to suggest that gun reforms will solve our problems in policing. They must be paired with overdue structural and cultural changes needed to excise the bad behavior in law enforcement. That should include the demilitarization of police, a greater investment in local social services and a national reconciliation effort in communities plagued with officer-involved violence.