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Crime and the GOP

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To the editor:

Why is it that the loudest voices complaining about the treatment of January 6 rioters and holding Donald Trump and his GOP co-conspirators accountable for their crimes are the same ones complaining that “radical liberal” forces are too soft on poor black kids who turn to crime as a way to survive? It’s a rhetorical question, but I’m fairly sure I know the answer.

The GOP uses crime as a dog whistle to gin up their base and frighten the gullible into believing American life has never been more dangerous.  

As per the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report, violent crime rates rose steeply from 1981 to its highest level in 1991 under conservative Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush. Violent crime rates have dropped steadily ever since and despite an increase beginning in 2020, the national rate is still roughly half the 1991 peak. 

What has risen dramatically are mass shootings. The rise coincided with two events: the 2004 expiration of the assault weapons ban and the 2008 Supreme Court Heller decision that made gun ownership an individual right.  

Any American who is truly concerned about crime should be demanding a regulatory system robust enough to insure that guns are kept out of the hands of those who would use them for criminal purposes, including self-harm. For decades, pro-gun advocates have spun the specious argument that tough regulations would only deny guns to the innocent while doing nothing to prevent criminals from obtaining them. This is nonsense.  

Point of sale background checks, waiting periods, a national registry and strict rules governing second-hand sales would all severely limit criminal ownership of guns while still permitting law-abiding citizens to obtain them. As for assault weapons, no one should own one, period; they are weapons of war and serve no legal purpose in a civilized society.

Additionally, we should all be demanding that every January 6 rioter, provocateur and enabler is tried, convicted and imprisoned as a deterrent to future political violence.  

If conservatives want to engage in an honest conversation concerning crime, great. Drop the partisan hyperbole, support sensible gun regulations and stop turning a blind eye to crimes committed by your political allies. Otherwise, your cries of “the sky is falling” will continue to leave liberals like myself unmoved.

Joseph Cannisi

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