Gun Laws & Legislation

Reducing “Gun Violence” Without Attacking Gun Owners


NRA ILA Contributor
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We always enjoy when we have an opportunity to link to the New York Times, simply because we take that as a sign that actual common sense is seeping into the newspaper of record for those who advocate for gun control. We don’t mean common sense in the “buy the BS we’re pushing” way gun grabbers do, but rather actual common sense as in “treat the problem.”

A recent opinion article published in the New York Times details city-level efforts that have found success from Boston to Oakland with personal deterrence. The opposite of zero-tolerance policies that lead to mass arrests, personal deterrence invokes community leaders – including parents of victims, faith leaders, advocates, and others as well as law enforcement – to dissuade those most likely to engage in violent crime.

This model began in the 1990s as a working group fighting youth homicide called Operation Ceasefire (not to be confused with gun control organizations with a similar name). Founder David Kennedy recalls that, “Ceasefire recognized that homicides and gun violence overwhelmingly are driven by a very small network of very high-risk people. It’s not about dangerous neighborhoods full of bad people. The community wants to be safe and hates violence.”

Imagine that. Targeting those who present a danger or may be in danger themselves reduces “gun violence.”

The basic outline of the Ceasefire model (and others like it) is that community leaders and law enforcement contact those most likely to engage in violence or to be victimized by violence. Think gang members who may be preparing to attack rivals or who may be facing retaliation.

The Ceasefire operatives work to defuse conflict, to keep ongoing problems from turning violent, to prevent retaliation, and to build a culture that visibly rejects all violence. Potential offenders are warned of the consequences of their choices – including lengthy prison sentences. They hear from mothers who lost children to violence, from pastors, and from former prisoners – all of which serves to drive home the impact of crime and hopefully stop violence from begetting violence. This isn’t law enforcement arresting every gang member they find for any offense possible; this is community leaders with law enforcement showing young people the real outcome of violence.

Operations like Ceasefire and Cure Violence have worked in cities across the country. Pittsburgh homicides hit a 12-year low. Detroit hit a 50-year low. Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, New York City, Oakland, Philadelphia, and Newburgh, New York are some of the cities that have experienced positive results from personal deterrence over the last couple of decades.

Take another look at that list. Most of those cities are within states that are regularly classified as being “tough on guns” by gun grabbers.

Remember this New York Times article the next time you see some academic study holding up some anti-gun state as evidence that liberty-infringing laws reduce violent crime. Remember that besides making it difficult, expensive, or damn near impossible for law-abiding residents to exercise their Constitutional rights, the cities in these anti-gun states likely have programs like Ceasefire and Cure Violence working to turn actual criminals away from a life of crime.

Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the “lobbying” arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.