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How to Reduce Violence in America

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Hardly a day goes by without someone calling for gun control as the way to reduce violence in America.

But the gun control advocates have it all wrong. That’s because they are attacking the symptom of the problem rather than the cause of the problem. That’s not going to do any good and, in fact, might well make the situation even worse.

Consider Switzerland, a country in which there is widespread gun ownership. If that was the root cause of violence in society, Switzerland would have the same problem with societal violence that the United States has. It doesn’t.

There are two ways to drastically reduce violence in America — so drastically, in fact, that there would be a lot less Americans calling for gun control.

The first way is the end the war on drugs. Just legalize all drugs, not just marijuana. If that were to be done today, violence in the United States would plummet dramatically.

Why?

Two reasons.

First, drug addicts and drug users would no longer have to commit thefts and robberies to pay for the artificially high price of illegal drugs. Making drugs illegal reduces the supply. That causes prices to go up. The stricter the enforcement, the higher the price. Exorbitant prices make it much more difficult for addicts and users to be able to afford the drugs. Assuming that they’re going to get the drugs one way or another, that leaves them with but one alternative with respect to finances — to steal the money to pay for the drugs. That entails violence in the form of muggings, robberies, burglaries, thefts, and the like.

Let’s assume drugs are legalized. Then the price plummets. Drugs become more reasonably priced, much like liquor, wine, and beer. When was the last time you heard of someone committing robbery or theft to get the money to buy a bottle of wine? Drug addicts and drug users find that they’re able to support their drug habit through regular employment. They don’t have to resort to violence to get the money to pay for reasonably priced drugs.

Second, drug gangs and drug cartels are out of business the day drugs are legalized. That’s because they cannot effectively compete against reputable pharmacies and other suppliers. How many addicts or users are going to use some black-market dealer when they can get their drugs from a reputable pharmacy or pharmaceutical company? The drug lords and drug dealers today would not be able to survive.

That means the end of all the violence associated with wars between drugs gangs and drug cartels. No more turf battles between the gangs because there won’t be any more gangs. No more drug-war assassinations of public officials, like what happens often in Mexico, because, again, there won’t be any more drug gangs.

The second way to reduce violence in America is to bring all the troops home from the Middle East and Afghanistan immediately. Not one more killing. Not one more bomb. Not one more assassination.

Ever since the U.S. national-security state began killing people in the Middle East more than 25 years ago, Americans have just assumed that all that constant, non-stop death and destruction would have no effect on people back here at home. The major media has cooperated in this endeavor by declining to publish photographs of the dead. The Pentagon won’t let them photograph the coffins containing the bodies of U.S. soldiers who have been killed over there. The idea has always been based on the notion that if the killing, maiming, torturing, and destruction was limited to over there, it wouldn’t have any effect here at home.

That’s been a pipe dream from the beginning. When their loved ones, relatives, friends, or countrymen are getting killed or having their homes or businesses destroyed by some foreign power, people will oftentimes retaliate not only in revenge but also as a way to make it stop. Americans learned that lesson on 9/11, 2001. They had forewarnings of this lesson even before that date — the 1993 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, the terrorist attack on the USS Cole, and the terrorist attacks on the U.S. Embassies in East Africa. They’ve also learned it in several terrorist attacks since then, some of them here in the United States. Foreign interventionism has costs, not just financial, but also in terms of terrorist “blowback.”

I think there is another factor at work here as well. I can’t prove it but I believe it to be true. I think the constant, non-stop, daily killing, bombing, shooting, and destroying in the Middle East and Afghanistan for the past 25 years has served as some sort of psychological trigger for people who are just a bit off-kilter, driving them to commit unexplained acts of violence against others. The cheapening of life overseas through non-stop killing sets off the trigger that then drives the off-kilter person to unleash his own bizarre wave of violence here at home. Ending the constant violence at the hands of the national-security state over there might well end up bringing a diminution in violence here at home at the hands of the off-kilter types.

Americans have nothing to lose by ending the drug war today and bringing all the troops home today. Both programs have not only failed to achieve their purported ends, they have both produced massive negative consequences. Americans have everything to gain, including a peaceful and harmonious society, by ending both of these federal programs today.

This post was written by:

Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A. in economics from Virginia Military Institute and his law degree from the University of Texas. He was a trial attorney for twelve years in Texas. He also was an adjunct professor at the University of Dallas, where he taught law and economics. In 1987, Mr. Hornberger left the practice of law to become director of programs at the Foundation for Economic Education. He has advanced freedom and free markets on talk-radio stations all across the country as well as on Fox News’ Neil Cavuto and Greta van Susteren shows and he appeared as a regular commentator on Judge Andrew Napolitano’s show Freedom Watch. View these interviews at LewRockwell.com and from Full Context. Send him email.