February 18, 2007

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Cut Gun Crime - Make Carrying Guns Uncool

How often did your mother tell you not to keep scratching an itch? Sometimes our most instinctive reactions are just plain wrong and just end up causing more trouble.

For example, in today's news it's reported that Tony Blair is recommending tougher sentences for people aged 18-21 found in possession of firearms. This is a knee-jerk reaction to a recent spate of shootings in South London and Manchester's notorious Moss Side. The media have pressed the panic button (to sell papers, of course), and the government is responding the only only way it knows how - by trying to legislate the problem away.

But does Tony Blair really believe that making guns more illegal will make them less cool to youngsters? Haven't we been here before? The more we crack down on something, the bigger and more alluring the subculture surrounding it becomes. I suspect that getting even tougher on kids carrying firearms will see even more kids carrying firearms, simply because the more we condemn it, the more kids will want to defy us. When I was 16, you didn't attract girls by doing your homework, respecting your elders and getting an early night...

The current rise in gun crime seems directly related to the growing problem of drugs. And again, the more we crack down on drugs, the bigger and more powerful the subculture grows. Cracking down harder just adds fuel to the fire. If we want the gun problem - and the drug problem - to go away, we need to seriously consider how we make guns and drugs uncool.

Maybe if Tony Blair carried a gun and we made spinach and calculus illegal...
Posted 14 years, 6 months ago on February 18, 2007