HomeOpinionGPD pushes political anti-gun agenda under guise of reducing gun violence
GPD pushes political anti-gun agenda under guise of reducing gun violence
December 6, 2022
BY LEN CABRERA
Over 15 months have passed since the last big push to reduce gun violence in Gainesville. Nothing has changed, and the new push is more of the same: words with little action. Instead of focusing on the criminals who cause gun violence, the Gainesville Police Department (GPD) is sponsoring 13 days of activities that will make no difference and is amplifying the political agenda of an activist group that focuses more on restricting legal guns than punishing criminals with guns.
It began with a Unity Walk on Dec. 4 and a Mental Health Check-In for the Holidays on Dec. 5. Today GPD is “removing debris, trash, and undesirable items” and “going door to door sharing resources and holiday greetings with our neighbors in the Pineridge community.”
Tomorrow, Dec. 7, GPD “would like everyone to join us in making the ‘Sandy Hook Promise’ and participate in the ‘Sandy Hook Promise Survey.'” Sandy Hook Promise is an activist group that uses emotional pleas for protecting children as a cover to push for restrictions on legal gun sales and gun owners.
The promise itself sounds innocent enough: signers promise to have difficult conversations and then turn the conversation into actions to protect children. However, the top issues for the organization involve passing what they call “gun safety laws,” including expanded background checks, “Extreme Risk Protection Orders” (red flag laws), policies for safe storage, an end to the sale of “assault-style rifles,” protecting kids from “ghost guns,” and banning “high-capacity magazines.” Nothing there will improve public safety in Gainesville because most of the shootings here are from handguns, not those scary-looking black rifles, and a significant number of guns seized by law enforcement are stolen, not purchased.
Dec. 9 – a special outreach night, “reserved for a special neighborhood in our community”
Dec. 10 – a Gun Buy
Dec. 11 – a Community Resource Expo
Dec. 12 – a police/youth dialogue
Dec. 13 – GPD will conduct “vehicle report card checks in residential and business areas”
Dec. 14 – GPD asks residents to make social media posts that encourage youth to say no to guns and violence, with an orange heart
Dec. 15 – GPD will pack patrol vehicles with toys and share them with youth who “take a pledge that promises not to use guns”
Dec. 16 – GPD will host a night of compassion in the Duval neighborhood, remembering loved ones who have been killed by gun violence.
As I wrote in July 2021, stopping violent crime is not rocket science. The simple solution involves more police and stronger enforcement of existing laws. Steven Mello from Princeton University looked at hiring grants from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act Community Oriented Policing Services and found “large and statistically significant effects of police on robbery, larceny, and auto theft.”
The opposite is also true: less funding for police and weak enforcement leads to more crime. Barry Latzer, professor of criminal justice at City University of New York and author of The Rise and Fall of Violent Crime in America, wrote: “When police, courts, jails and prisons are unable to cope with crime, their failures serve as an incentive to increased lawbreaking.” He cites a study that found half of released federal prisoners are rearrested within 21 months of discharge.
In the 15 months since that column, no one from the City of Gainesville or GPD has called for these simple suggestions that would toughen existing laws:
Update Statute 790.169 to automatically charge minors with guns as adults.
Update Statute 790.07 to include “or while under indictment” in the firearm section so firearms are treated the same as other weapons.
Update Statute 790.27 so that individuals selling, delivering, or possessing a firearm with an altered or removed serial number are charged with a felony instead of a misdemeanor.
Rather than pushing national talking points on crime (gun control, diversion programs, prisoner releases, youth activities, etc.), GPD and the City of Gainesville should put their efforts into getting more police on the streets. They should also push the State Attorney to be more aggressive with repeat offenders and encourage our state legislature to toughen laws on criminals, not focus on new restrictions for law-abiding citizens.
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