Current efforts are not helping curb violence

Published 12:38 am Sunday, August 28, 2016

The great majority of gun control laws seem pointless. Many of them seek to control or limit access to firearms. The problem is only law-abiding citizens would be affected.

Criminals, by their core nature, simply have little regard for the law.

But perhaps we’ve been going about the problem of gun control the wrong way.

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Rather than restricting purchase of guns, perhaps the nation needs to target more precisely criminals with guns.

A recent string of auto burglaries in Natchez in which thieves targeted vehicles that likely contained firearms had me thinking last week — most criminals probably don’t walk into Sports Center and legally buy a pistol at full sticker price. No, they probably steal them. And perhaps that’s where we as a nation need to focus.

Years ago comedian Chris Rock suggested the best gun control would be “bullet control.”

He was joking, in a way, but his suggestion was to increase the price of bullets to the point that anyone would think twice before pulling the trigger because of the monetary cost to do so.

Rock suggested if each bullet cost $5,000, the risk of accidental shootings of innocent bystanders would be diminished.

“Every time somebody gets shot, you’d be like dang, he must have did something. They put $50,000 worth of bullets in his (rear). People would think before they killed someone if a bullet cost $5,000.”

Rock’s idea is interesting and funny, but in the end it harms law-abiding citizens along with the criminals.

But what if our state and nation did two things:

1). Reduce the privacy rights of people with past violent criminal convictions.

2). Massively increase the penalties for crimes including: Felons in possession of firearms and the possession of a stolen firearm.

If we were working smart, the government — instead of fighting the National Rifle Association — would bring the NRA into the solution.

Let the NRA keep a database of guns reported stolen. Gun owners who fear liberal wings of government will one day hope to confiscate all guns would rest easier knowing government would never gain a “list” of prospective gun owners.

As much as I appreciate and cherish the civil liberties we as Americans enjoy, a part of me thinks, “If I’m convicted of a felony, I deserve to have some of those liberties revoked for a period of time.” I don’t just mean until my sentence is served either.

Years ago former Adams County Sheriff Tommy Ferrell told me that all law enforcement knew who the worst of the worst criminals were in a given area. The problem was catching them in the act and proving their guilt to a jury.

Ferrell suggested if he were allowed to just arrest 40 or 50 people in the county because he knew they were up to no good, he could cut crime in half.

Clearly, just locking people up on the whim of a sheriff, no matter how accurate his assessment of the person’s criminal threat, isn’t allowable.

But what if felony convictions meant the convicted was subject to being stopped and searched for 10 or 15 years after the end of their sentence?

Would that allow law enforcement to catch folks that are repeat offenders before additional crimes are committed?


Similarly, I don’t think we, as a society should have a fear of police patting down teenagers who are hanging out on public property.

If that were done, how many young teens would be caught holding weapons they’re too young to possess?

How many lives might be saved from falling into a violent situation if someone cared enough about them to disarm them?

It’s difficult to know, but what we’re doing now — giving everyone a wide berth on civil liberties matters and “arming up” on both sides — criminal and law-abiding — isn’t working.

Something must change or the violence will continue. At the least we need, as a nation, to start a dialogue about ways to improve.


Kevin Cooper is publisher of The Natchez Democrat. He can be reached at 601-445-3539 or