As Gang Violence Rises, N.C. Mayor Targets Legal Gun Owners

Beyond the obvious constitutional issues with most gun control laws, there are also real practical problems with attempting to use gun control as a way of addressing violent crime. Durham, North Carolina Mayor Steve Schewel doesn’t seem bothered by either the dubious constitutionality or the pragmatic concerns about gun control, however. As shootings increase in the city, Shewel’s embraced a gun control agenda that’s aimed squarely at the city’s legal gun owners instead of the small number of violent criminals driving the mayhem and misery.

He said he is asking for the state to allow cities to ban guns in parks, trails, restaurants, bars, and school parking lots.

He is also calling for background checks for all gun sales, for automatic assault weapons to be banned, and for ammunition to be taxed…

“This is not about taking away a hunter’s rifle or the right to bear arms,” Schewel said. “If we’re serious about getting a handle on it, we’re not going to stop it until we cut off the supply of guns to people who are committing crimes.”

Nope, nope, nope. Supply side gun control is destined to fail in a nation with more than 400,000,000 privately owned firearms and a constitutional right to keep and bear them. Banning our way to safety is a non-starter, and Schewel should actually be embarrassed to have uttered such an idiotic statement.

Look at what Schewel’s proposing here. Banning legal gun owners from both public and private property? Telling a woman who’s a concealed carry holder that she can no longer carry when she’s running on a trail, or telling a restaurant owner that he can no longer have his firearm with him when he’s in his own establishment?

The only way those gun bans would work to make anyone safer is if violent criminals would pay attention to the prohibition on carrying. Schewel can’t be dumb enough to truly believe that would be the case, but his goal is clearly to go after legal gun owners and the right to keep and bear arms in the hopes of it having some sort of trickle down effect on violent criminals.

Schewel’s anti-gun agenda, including banning so-called assault weapons, universal background checks, and increasing taxes on ammunition, won’t stop a single act of violence, nor would they actually “cut off the supply of guns to people who are committing crimes.” Most of these people are getting their guns illegally, after all. No, in order to really address the issue Schewel needs to get serious about addressing the demand for guns among people who are committing crimes.

For those individuals, using a gun in the commission of a crime is a net positive at the moment. The potential consequences don’t outweigh the perceived benefits. That is what needs to change, and it has nothing to do with another gun control law (or three, or more). Instead, it means focusing like a laser on the relatively small number of people who are responsible for an outsized portion of the city’s violence. Offer these individuals a chance to change, and give them help, but make it clear that more shootings means no more plea deals. No more low bail. Take as many of these cases as officials can to the U.S. Attorney for prosecution and put offenders away for as long as the law allows.

While Schewel is bloviating about banning our way to safety, at least some residents in Durham know where the problem really lies.

Kathy Dingle lives on Park Avenue. Four bullets flew into her 18-year-old son’s bedroom on Tuesday evening.

Thankfully he was not injured, but she said she thinks there should be stricter gun laws to keep these guns out of the wrong hands.

“If you’re caught with a gun, you’re back out on the streets firing a gun five or three days later, it’s not sending a message to these young people,” Dingle said.

Schewel’s gun control agenda sends the wrong message to these young people. If he’s even remotely serious about actually addressing violent crime, he needs to quit parroting anti-gun talking points and start looking at what actually works. I’d recommend he pick up a copy of David Kennedy’s bookDon’t Shoot: One Man, A Street Fellowship, and the End of Violence in Inner-City America. That’s the blueprint for saving Durham, not the bumper sticker slogans of Moms Demand Action and Everytown for Gun Safety.