We Don’t Win Wars These Days

Since 1970 we have been fighting a war on drugs. We have passed a multitude of laws, spent billions upon billions of dollars and we have not won that war. No, in fact, we lost it some time ago. Some of those fighting the war have actually gone over to the other side. Multiple states have legalized some of the drugs and one state has even decriminalized the hardest of the drugs we battled. The current administration seems to have ceded control of not just the border but some inland areas to the Mexican drug cartels. Yes, we lost that war a long time ago. We lost it by thinking that laws alone could protect us from the scourge. We were wrong.

Some in the country think the same way about guns. More gun laws will stop the gun violence. The idealists want a war on guns. They refuse to be informed by either history or real time events wherein cities that have the strictest gun laws have the highest rate of gun violence. The issue with idealists is they always believe they can change human nature. They want fewer police and more social workers. We couldn’t possibly pay for the number of social workers necessary just for people already at risk so how would we do so with the millions more streaming across the borders. Still, the idealists call for reducing the numbers of police not realizing that the average citizen’s response to that move is to legally purchase guns for self-defense. This, of course, increases the number of guns in the US directly defeating the idealists’ call for fewer. As for a law banning all firearms we’ve tried that approach as well. Remember the Volstead Act and the 18th Amendment? Yes, we actually amended the Constitution to prohibit drinking alcohol in the U.S. That amendment made a large part of the population criminals for the purchase of alcohol was as much a criminal act as the production and sale. So, we’ve tried to prohibit alcohol and drugs and failed at both. Why does anyone think a prohibiition of firearms would be any different? What was it Einstein said about the definition of being crazy? BTW prohibition was an outgrowth of the policies of The Social Gospel which was the kernel from which the Progressive Party grew. Social Justice and Progressivism are actually just revitalized late 19th century politics.

Re the issue of police: There is no question certain law enforcement officers need to be culled. We need to have a more stringent selection process for police, keeping violence prone individuals from attaining badges and guns (see Memphis). At the same time we need to institute non-career threatening stress management and relief mechanisms in all police forces. Teachers get sabbaticals, why not on the street law enforcement officers? We should hire additional mental health professionals who will be police employees embedded within precincts to observe and, if necessary, take action. Police unions need to share the responsibility of removing substandard performers instead of defending them. They also need to share the responsibility of setting up procedures to intercede early when an officer begins to show signs of the stress affecting them in a manner that will negatively affect their interaction with the public. The union must also recognize that defending obviously reckless and guilty officers is not in their best interests or the interests of those they represent. The blue wall needs to have exit doors built into it for substandard performers or those who are prone to overreacting.

Most importantly we need to keep idealism out of policing just as we need to keep it out of politics. It isn’t wrong to have ideals but when those ideals go against human nature and long term cultural practices they inevitably wind up causing pain and suffering and more than likely political and cultural upheaval. Policing is about as real an effort in society as you’re going to find and imposing idealistic, vice realistic,expectations upon individual police officers only leads to officers who begin second-guessing themselves and in that instant of second-guessing lose their lives. That’s unacceptable. The more we punish honest mistakes the fewer qualified people will apply to become first responders and that will simply tighten the downward spiral we’re trying to recover from. I find it confusing that the death of a person engaged in an illegal activity can convoke riots in our streets while the death of tens of soldiers attempting to enforce an idealistic undertaking of bringing democracy to an area where the people are mired in the fourteen century, and have no word in their language for the concept of democracy, is ignored. Which hurts the nation more, the death of a long-time criminal or the death of ten righteous individuals. The answer is both, no one should lose their life unjustly, but only an investigation based solely on facts will provide justice.

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