It’s a real conundrum for many on the Left; how to reconcile their desire for more gun control laws with their demand for less policing. After all, there’s not much point in putting more restrictions on gun ownership in place if the new laws aren’t going to be enforced, but if you believe that we’re already over-policed, then are more gun laws really the best way to address “gun violence”?
Democrats in Evanston, Illinois are wrestling with this dilemma, with some local politicians vowing to adopt an “intersectional approach” to the issue.
Ald. Devon Reid (8th), who was sworn in Monday, said he plans to remain “laser-focused” on the issue of gun violence, especially as it impacts the 5th and 8th Wards.
However, Reid said he wants to avoid punitive gun control measures that rely on policing and incarcerating people who possess firearms illegally. Some gun control advocates say defunding police departments and investing in alternate community safety programs would be easier if less people were armed, although many gun control laws have historically been enforced by police departments.
“We need to… try to get guns off the street, but do it in a manner that does not violate the rights of our residents,” Reid said.
Instead, he said, Evanston should increase support for people in situations that increase their likelihood to commit acts of violence. Reid said gun violence can be related to factors like mistrust of established legal channels, such as police and court systems.
While Reid is talking about “getting guns off the streets,” what he’s really describing is an attempt to reduce demand for firearms among those most likely to use them in crimes. I’m all in favor of that, but he and others have to commit to reducing the demand instead of continuing to target the supply of firearms, which inevitably leads to punitive gun control measures.
Unfortunately, gun control activists still don’t see it that way.
Peyton Arens is an Illinois State Director for March for Our Lives, a national, youth-led gun control advocacy group. He said the organization wants the federal government to address gun violence as a public health issue that’s interconnected with other structural disparities, including lack of access to mental health care, rather than an issue that can be dealt with entirely by law enforcement.
Arens said gun control can go hand in hand with police demilitarization. A demilitarized system could include departments of unarmed people tasked with responding to situations like mental health emergencies and routine traffic violations instead of armed police officers, reducing the likelihood of violent encounters, he said.
Creating that type of system, however, would be easier if less people were armed, Arens said.
“If there’s less guns on the street… police don’t necessarily have to respond with a firearm,” Arens said. “Transferring resources to different departments in a more broad system would make sense, especially in an area as dense and populated as Chicago, because police are forced to handle a lot of different things that they aren’t specifically trained to handle.”
So, they know they want less guns and less policing, but the “less guns” comes first, with the promise of less policing to follow once the guns are gone. At that point their ideas are nothing more than a fantasy, because not only do we have about 100-million gun owners in this country, those numbers are going up, not down. People are growing more interested in exercising their Second Amendment rights, even in places like Chicago and its suburbs.
Arens and his fellow anti-gun and de-policing activists are still refusing to address the fundamental contradiction in their position. They’d love to persuade people to give up their guns, but that’s not going to happen in large numbers anytime soon, so instead they want to use the power of armed agents of the state to enforce criminal penalties on those who would violate their gun laws. They might not want to admit it, but if they believe that policing is a problem, then every non-violent, possessory gun control law they manage to put in place only makes things worse.