Chattanooga's 'Gun Unit' All About Focusing On The Wrong Thing

Townhall Media/Beth Baumann

I have a lot of respect for law enforcement, by and large. Obviously, there are exceptions. Like anything else, law enforcement draws all types. However, for the most part, law enforcement contains those who are interested in helping protect others to the best of their ability. It’s also a job that everyone probably agrees would be nice not to need.

That’s never going to happen, but it would probably be nice if law enforcement were unneeded. Since it is, though, it would be nice if officers focused on useful things.

In Chattanooga, there’s a police unit that focuses on so-called “gun crime.”

Chattanooga’s gun unit has been in place for a year now, and already it has become a nationally recognized model for how mid-sized cities can track — and hopefully reduce — gun violence, law enforcement experts say.

For gun unit supervisor Sgt. Josh May, working to stop the cycle of gun violence is more than just a job.

“You get tired of seeing dead bodies. You get tired of talking to kids who, at 10, 11 years old, know more people who are dead than you did, [more] people with bullets in them than you do. It’s disheartening.”


The gun unit was launched on June 1, 2018.

It was May’s brainchild and was spurred by spates of violence, including one especially violent weekend in January 2017 that left two people dead and five others wounded.

Then-police Chief Fred Fletcher was already planning to ask for funding to add 14 new officers to the force. When he heard Josh’s idea, he signed on and announced those officers would staff the gun unit and rapid response teams, which would follow up on shots-fired calls around the city.

The unit, Fletcher said, would use a system called the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network, or NIBIN, to help track and solve violent crimes.

“My vision [is] before we get to a homicide, utilize this technology, this manpower, on these shots fired to link this gun to this person to make quality cases,” he told council members at the time.


Look, I want people who shoot other people caught. Don’t get me wrong.

However, has anyone in the department thought about trying to figure out how in the hell to prevent violence instead of focusing on the gun? Let’s say this gun crime unit does somehow scare criminals into not shooting people, you know, for the sake of argument. Do you think they’re going to stop trying to kill one another? No. Not at all.

All of this focus on guns ignores the deeper problem that there are people in this world who are so broken they believe murder is perfectly acceptable. Some people don’t have respect for human life, and that needs to be addressed.

Fail to do that, and rather than tell some mother that her son was shot to death, you get to tell her that he was stabbed instead.

I’m quite sure that will make her feel much better about having her baby’s life taken away.

By all means, catch the bad actors and do what you need to do to catch them. On the same token, though, it would be nice to see someone recognizing that in the phrase “gun violence,” the word “gun” is an adjective and not the noun. This focus on the adjective means people are ignoring the real problem.

Oct 24, 2021 2:30 PM ET