Durham, North Carolina has a problem. It’s not an unusual problem in this day and age, I’m afraid, but a problem none the less.
After months of being locked down followed by varying degrees of civil unrest, many cities are facing a similar issue. You see, Durham is having an issue with violence.
In what has become a too familiar refrain, Durham leaders on Thursday bemoaned a rising tide of gun violence in the city and called for help to quell it.
So far this year, 823 shootings have been reported in Durham, a 42 percent jump from a year ago. The number of people wounded in those shootings has almost doubled, from 130 to 250, although the number killed has dropped slightly, from 29 to 24.
Forty-two of those hurt in shootings this year are 17 or younger, including 15-year-old Anthony Adams, who was killed Sunday in a drive-by shooting downtown.
“This loss of life, this gun violence, all gun violence is absolutely unacceptable in Durham,” Mayor Steve Schewel said at a news conference. “Every time there is a gunshot wound here in the Bull City, it doesn’t just tear into the body of the wounded. It tears into their family, into their neighborhood and into our entire community.”
Unfortunately, this is all too common right now, which is something Schewel should keep in mind.
However, it’s clear that he isn’t.
Schewel urged the General Assembly to enact more gun control legislation, such as universal background checks, a “red flag” law to temporarily take firearms away from people deemed to pose a danger to themselves or others and allowing cities to prohibit carrying weapons in restaurants, bars and parks.
“As long as guns are available in [large] quantities and as long as they are easily available to anyone who wants a gun, we are not gong to be able to end gun violence,” he said.
Oh, boy. Where to start.
First, red flag laws are less than useless for the kind of violence Durham is seeing. While we can argue about whether it will stop a mass shooting or a suicide, only the most ridiculous would claim it has any impact on gang violence, which is much of what Durham is seeing.
Additionally, let’s face facts. The lack of gun control in North Carolina isn’t the problem.
Take, for example, Maryland. That’s a state with tons of gun control–one of the more gun controlled states in the nation, actually–and its largest city is having problems.
While lives are being lost, Baltimore’s underground gun trade is alive and well.
Even though Maryland has some of the toughest gun laws in the United States, it’s home to some of the country’s deadliest streets.
Now, if Schewel got his way, is there any reason to believe Durham would somehow be different than Baltimore? Or Chicago?
Of course not. What Schewel is doing is trying to capitalize on what’s transpiring in an attempt to advance his preferred agenda. In particular, he wants gun control and he doesn’t mind misrepresenting what it can do in order to try and make it happen.
I’m sure the party bosses will approve of his efforts, but it won’t do a damned thing to make Durham’s streets the least bit safer. In fact, if law-abiding citizens can’t get guns, it’ll make the streets less safe.
Finally, let’s address the fallacy that anyone who wants a gun can easily purchase one. First of all, lawfully purchasing one isn’t exactly easy, especially compared to purchasing pretty much any other lawful item. I can buy anything else I want without the seller having to get government permission to take my money.
Second, while it can be argued that criminals have easy access to guns, that access isn’t through lawful channels. They get their guns through the black market, a market that would be unaffected by any policy Schewel would care to name.
It’s well past time to stop pretending that gun control has any impact on black market guns. It’s also past time to stop pretending that legal firearm sales and black market guns have anything at all to do with one another.