Tuesday, the state lege approved HB 1835, the so called“Crooks with Guns” Bill which would add anywhere from 3 to 10 years to felonies committed with firearms based on the severity of the felony, and the use, or not, of said firearm.
Can we be serious for a moment here? Does ANYONE think this is going to reduce crime? I mean, seriously. This seems more like a business opportunity for Nashville based Corrections Corporation (CXW)than any kind of crime bill.
This bill basically mimics the old, tired, and failed Federal mandatory minimum standards for drug offenses. Sure, once the drug dealers, or in most cases, users, got caught, they went to jail longer, making the streets “safer” for a time. Eventually, the corrections system couldn’t handle the number of inmates, and many ended up getting released. Because of those very same mandatory minimums, which had strict restrictions on who could get released after how, long, violent offenders would often be released years before some old harmless pot head who grew a little too much of his own.
Then there’s the other thing that people in Memphis should be absolutely SCREAMING about. This bill does ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to prevent crimes from happening. NOTHING. This doesn’t make us safer until the criminal gets caught and convicted. This does nothing to address the poverty or unemployment situations that often drive people to various forms or crime. This doesn’t address the pathetic educational system, our frontline defense against making newer younger criminals.
This bill is nothing more than a Band-Aid for a bullet wound.
If we really want to do something about crime in our community we need to think about crime in a radically different way. We have to create job opportunities for the 27,000 (2005) Memphians who are currently unemployed. We need to address the 34% of our students who do not graduate from High School. We need to fight to help raise the 24% of our population out of the shackles of poverty. Crime is not a one-dimensional problem, and until we change our thinking from merely punishing the offenders to prevention, we will continue to be saddled with this problem.
We need to hold our legislators to a higher standard, and get serious about addressing the root of the problem. While I’m sure that this will make a great campaign flyer for many running in next years election, we need to start asking the hard questions about why our legislators are too afraid or short sighted to address the needs of our communities that would do much more actually prevent crime than just punish the criminals more. Don’t fall for the hype. Just like speed limit signs don’t stop people from speeding, this law will do nothing to prevent individuals from engaging in criminal acts.