KevinMD contributors, virtually without exception, have asserted the solution to events like the horrific tragedy in Uvalde, Texas, is “gun control.” Allow me to present an alternative viewpoint in the interest of diversity of opinion.
First of all, I favor reasonable gun restriction laws. But sadly, I don’t think that will solve the problem. Look at the city of Chicago. It has one of the strictest laws on gun control in the country. And it has one of the highest rates of gun murder. The sad fact is that there are evil and crazed monsters who, if they desire to kill, will not cease their rampages by a law commanding them not to purchase a gun. (And even though the Uvalde, Texas murderer had posted his intention to kill on Facebook, to blame this tragedy on social media and Mark Zuckerberg is not helpful either.)
However, we can do one crucial thing to stop violent crime: Stop freeing violent criminals with little or no punishment. We can end the “no bail” policies or “slap on the wrist” sentencing by judges and DAs.
The father of 21-year-old murdered college student Saiko Koma is one man who laments these legal policies. Steven Mendez gunned down his daughter in October of 2021 in New York City. Mendez had pleaded guilty to armed robbery in 2020, only one year earlier.
In addition, he had a host of other criminal charges against him at the time, including pulling a gun on his mother. Mendez was out on probation at the time. Would stricter gun control laws in New York City (which already have some of the strictest laws in the country) have kept Steven Mendez from killing this innocent young woman? Doubtful.
Would keeping him in jail for a reasonably judicious period of time, instead of granting parole for his crimes, have saved Saiko Koma’s life? Absolutely. I would hope that many of us would resonate with Mr. Koma’s words when he lamented, “What is wrong with these judges!”
Twenty-year career criminal Eugene Clark, who had previous convictions for robbery, gang assault, and other crimes, beat to death and then robbed 67-year-old Ramon Luna. Clark was on parole at the time. For these new crimes, a grand jury indicted him for second-degree murder and two counts of robbery. The judge, however, released Clark “on his own recognizance” after making him promise to show up for his court date in 4 months. In the meantime, Mr. Clark would be free to roam the streets.
Yet sometimes, it is not the judge’s fault; it is the fault of some lawmakers, who espouse critical legal theory, a theory that proclaims criminal law is merely a construct of white privilege. That is the case in New York, for example, where lawmakers have passed the “no bail” statute, legislating the numerous crimes that are not worthy of bail under this new legal theory. This law was great news to someone like 32 years old Ricardo Hernandez, who already had over a dozen prior arrests to his credit.
On April 17, 2021, Rodriquez shoved an Asian police officer on the New York City subway tracks. Rodriquez was arrested and charged with a hate crime. Then immediately after his arraignment, he was released without bail. Even the judge felt remorse. “My hands are tied,” said the judge. “The law does not allow me to set any bail for this type of offense.”
Final case: Waukesha, Wisconsin,11/21/21. Darryl Brooks, a registered sex offender with a twenty-year career criminal record and who, in his many posts on social media, had expressed hatred for whites and praised Hitler for murdering Jews, deliberately drove his SUV into a crowd of Christmas holiday gathers, killing six, and maiming dozens of others. He had five open arrest warrants at the time. Amazingly, he was freed on one thousand dollars bail after using the same SUV nineteen days earlier to run over the mother of his child.
While new restrictions on gun ownership are not unreasonable, if we want to keep Americans safe, let’s stop letting violent criminals like Darryl Brooks, Eugene Clark, Steven Mendez, and Ricardo Hernandez back on our streets. And these are not isolated cases; there are thousands like them all across America.
The answer is not gun control.
It is violent criminal control.
Scott Abramson is a neurologist who blogs at Doctor Wisdom.
Image credit: Shutterstock.com