Street Cop
By Jim Fotis

Ivory Tower Babble

Academia's Approach to Crime Prevention Focuses, Wrongly, Of Course, on Guns.

Chains and padlocks secure all but essential doorways.  Bars cover gothic windows.  Low-wattage bulbs make dingy corridors look even danker and darker.  Burly guards patrol the entire area

Prison?  No, it's just another high school in a decaying urban center.

Today, schools look like jails.  Youngsters who at another time might have filled gyms and ballparks are now wearing colors and playing a dangerous game of turf control.  Too many kids with too much time on their hands.  Many pack at least knives.  The worst of them carry illegal guns.

Congress and the country want to do something to change all that, and in the last few years more than 3 billion federal dollars have been pumped into something called "crime prevention."  To what end?  That's what the Republican Congress wanted to know.  So in 1996, the federal legislative branch passed a measure directing its executive branch (Attorney General Janet Reno to be exact) to conduct a "comprehensive evaluation" of the effectiveness of billions injustice Department grants.  The task was to be performed by an objective third party.  The directive was simple: Find out what works and what doesn't.

The "third party" selected was the University of Maryland's Department of Criminology and Criminal justice, and the subsequent study produced a 500- page report.  Sounds simple and, more important, it sounds needed.  But don't forget this is the Clinton-Gore-Reno show.

Reno's "objective" academic team was headed by a professor well known in social circles as having distaste for all things firearm-related.  And it's not guntoting felons he dislikes; it's you and me.  The formula he and his colleagues have come up with to prevent crime is quite simplistic: Remove guns from public places and/or deter gun-carrying and, as a result, crime numbers will drop.

Get a load of that!

How do you suppose they recommend disarming street gangs?  The Maryland report's solution for reducing spontaneous shootings" is to get police-civilian teams checking known and convicted gang members for guns."  The researchers are silent on what civilians they have in mind or how the thugs will be persuaded to submit to such street-comer searches.

It'll come as no surprise, but the researchers appear to be fans of the Lautenberg "domestic violence" law.  And guess what they consider the "crucial" element in family violence?  The husband?  No. The wife?   No.  An out-of-control, undisciplined kid?  Nope.  The study purports that gun shops are to blame.  One concrete proposal to come from this study is additional income for the researchers and their fellow thinktanks consortiums.   The researchers have the gall to ask Congress "[to set] aside 10 percent of program funding for controlled testing, and another 10 percent for research costs, (which) would allow evaluations to identify police technology and equipment of proven effectiveness."  You don't think cops can tell you whether or not their equipment works?

In all the millions spent, the researchers at least compiled data in one legitimate area.  The report shows that gun buyback programs waste time, money, and save no human lives, suggesting "a major gap between theory and practice."  For instance, the report shows that St. Louis invested $250,000 to buy back 1,200 guns in 1994 only to conclude that there was "no reduction in homicide or gun assaults."

Maybe guns, as inanimate objects, are not the primary factors in violent crime.  Maybe we should focus more on the criminals.  But the researchers ignore this conclusion, repeatedly attacking gun ownership by associating "concealed carry" with criminals.

For instance, they claim that "the more police can remove guns from public places or deter people from carrying them ... the fewer crimes there will be."  Millions of Americans carry guns legally in public places.  Why is the focus always on guns?  Why not zero in on who is committing the violent crimes, prosecute them aggressively, and then lock them away for a long time?

And it's not just those in academia who are trying to disarm us-it's bureaucrats in general.  Many of the organizations perceived as representing the police express anti-gun, anti-self -defense opinions which mislead the public into believing this is how all cops feel.

For example, in April, Missouri residents voted on a referendum to allow Right-To-Carry, and the police chiefs group discouraged it.  In a recent survey, the chiefs association polled its members to get some "direction on what [the group's] role should be on this ballot issue."  The survey offered four choices-three answers were in opposition to the referendum and the fourth was a fill-in-the-blank "other."  Not exactly an objective way to conduct a survey, but typical.

The sad part about these antiSecond Amendment attacks is that taxpayer money is being spent on ridiculous studies like the one by the University of Maryland.   Even worse, our money is wasted on ostentatious programs to vilify guns and eventually disarm the public-all under the auspices of "protecting police."

Our cities were once thriving, kids were smiling, and our crime rates were minimal.  And that was before all this emphasis on guns.  Street cops support the good guys' basic right of self-defense.  Cops aren't threatened by a civilian's Right-To-Carry.  But the bureaucratic police groups (representing administrators not street cops) are misrepresenting the opinions of average officers.

It's becoming increasingly clear that a strong coalition of cops and civilians is the only way to win this battle.

Jim Fotis is executive director of the Law Enforcement Alliance of America For more information about LEAA, call (800) 766-8578.