Sunday, January 6, 2013

Another way to reduce gun violence - end the failed war on drugs

If the definition of "crazy" is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results, then we could clearly identify the war on drugs as crazy. Richard Nixon declared this war back in 1971 - over 40 years ago - and it still hasn't done anything to reduce the distribution and consumption of illegal drugs. On the contrary - it has cost us trillions of dollars and ended more lives than any other war we've been involved in during that time. When does a sane person say its finally time to stop this nonsense?

We all mourn the loss of those beautiful children at Sandy Hook, but there are children dying daily as a result of this war too. Here's how Dan Kahan, Professor of Psychology at Yale Law School, put it in describing his reaction to the shooting in Newtown.
The shooting upset me (as it did many, of course). But it upset me, too, to realize that I’m not that upset more or less continuously, because in fact young kids are being shot more or less continuously—not in elementary schools in communities like Newtown, but on street corners & playgrounds in cities like Chicago, Los Angeles and Detroit.

They are essentially part of the War on Drug’s “collateral damage.” And I guess in the same way we don’t worry overmuch about “collateral damage” in the form of deaths to civilians in our other wars, we don’t really get distracted by it here at home. . . .

However much progress one thinks can be made by laws restricting firearms, orders of magnitude more can be made by ending drug Prohibition, which like alcohol Prohibition combines opportunities for monopoly profits with the necessity for violent, extralegal enforcement of commercial obligations, creating a hyper-homicide cocktail potent enough to bend the historical curve of pacifism that is the signature of liberal markety societies.
I know people will say its a pipe dream (pun intended) to think about actually stopping this particular brand of carnage. And I'd agree that its not likely to happen overnight. But when we see people as diverse as those involved with the Breaking the Taboo movement aligned with the likes of Pat Robertson and the pages of the Wall Street Journal, perhaps its time to start taking it seriously.

There's no one answer to the problem on gun violence in this country. But as we begin the conversation, it would be crazy to not include ending this stupid war on drugs.


  1. By your leave, I'm going to go off topic from your excellent piece to do something time-sensitive. Al Giordano is writing a piece about censorship in social media and needs to hear from as many people as possible who may have been affected as a result of what they write on social media. Here is his request:

    Have you ever been censored/blocked by #facebook for journalism or opinion? Write with your story.

    1. Thanks Tien Le.

      I don't do Facebook - so I don't have anything to contribute.

    2. You do twitter, so you could retweet his request to your many followers, please:


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