Study to look at gardens to reduce violent crime

Study to look at gardens to reduce violent crime

I’ve long been an advocate for looking at alternative ways to reduce violent crime. Gun control doesn’t work, as we’ve seen over and over again. Studies claiming it does are, at best, suspect.

But are community gardens the answer to the violent crime question? Well, we’re all paying to find out.

Scores of federally funded gun violence studies have been launched since Congress opened the spigot for taxpayer dollars for the research, which was closed for more than two decades over conservatives’ fears that it would advance the cause of gun control advocates.

Marking a significant defeat for the gun lobby, lawmakers in Washington have set aside roughly $75 million since 2019 for the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to research gun violence.

The studies are examining the effectiveness of various programs, including an online youth educational website, a project to turn empty street corners into gardens and a close look at K-12 firearm prevention tactics.

NIH and CDC dole out the taxpayer dollars to universities to do the research. Funding includes:

• $2.25 million to the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor to determine whether turning vacant lots into green spaces, such as community gardens, pocket parks or green infrastructure, will reduce firearm violence in Detroit.

There are, of course, other efforts being funded, but I can’t help but look at this and shake my head.

And yet, it’s not as outlandish as it might sound.

There have been bits of evidence that suggested making neighborhood improvements reduces a lot of violent crime. Renovating neighborhoods, for example. A community garden would fit within that kind of framework.

So, if that’s actually the case, this could ultimately be money well-spent.

But I can’t help but wonder if community gardens are really the place to start. Street lighting and improvements on residences would make more sense to me and would have the added benefit of providing direct benefits to residents in those neighborhoods. Adding a community garden in various green spaces after that wouldn’t be a big deal.

That said, I’ll wait for the study’s completion. We’ll find out if community gardens will accomplish anything or not.

However, I’m clearly more accepting of this than some Congressional Republicans.

Sen. John Cornyn, Texas Republican, said plenty of privately funded studies are available without the $25 million that Congress contributes to gun violence research each year.

“I don’t think the federal government using tax dollars to do additional research is necessary or justified,” he told The Washington Times. “The problem is not the lack of knowledge or study. It’s just the challenges of dealing with human behavior. Democrats want to make the inanimate object the enemy, but it’s pretty clear to me that that’s part of an effort to ultimately deny law-abiding citizens access to their Second Amendment rights.”

Congress has split the $25 million gun research spending evenly between the NIH and the CDC each year since lawmakers reached an agreement in a December 2019 budget bill.

And understand, I’m actually in agreement with Cornyn. I would prefer federal funding never go for such research. I’m not a fan of the government spending our money on anything but the absolute essentials.

What I’m somewhat supportive of is the idea of looking elsewhere, somewhere beyond gun control, for methods of reducing violent crime. I’m glad to see it and I won’t make apologies for that, even if some of the suggested avenues sound rather silly as starting points.