Updated: March 18, 2013 7:03AM
It’s the 1970s handgun debate over the “Saturday Night Special” and the 1994 assault weapons debate all over again — too much violence, too many shootings, lots of talk about banning certain weapons and more gun control.
I’m not opposed to gun control, but with roughly 300 million guns in private hands in America the latest round of gun-control debate and legislation, however aggressive, will not significantly reduce the availability of guns nor the number of shootings and killings. I disdain the resurgence of the gun-control debate because it distracts from a serious discussion of the dominant producer of violence and killings in our midst — illegal drug trafficking.
In Chicago, we have witnessed many solutions to gun violence proposed and implemented in recent decades. Among the latest are restoring police special response teams, more cops on the street, video cameras in the public way, gunshot sensors atop telephone poles, razing abandoned buildings and so forth.
Sadly, all these initiatives (some good) have failed to stop the violence. They have, however, diverted attention from a change in public policy that will save many lives, perhaps a majority of those being lost: Should Illinois, America and the world end drug prohibition? Should we legalize, regulate and tax illicit drugs rather than criminalize their production, distribution and consumption?
Chicago police Supt. Garry McCarthy says 80 percent of Chicago murders are gang-related and that marijuana, heroin and cocaine are “the lifeblood of gangs that are involved in violence day in and day out.” He’s correct.
Last fall, McCarthy held a news conference about a massive drug sweep that resulted in many arrests and about 200 guns seized. I asked if he was against the drug prohibition that feeds the gangs, and he answered that “it’s not my job to set drug policy.” It must be someone’s.
James E. Gierach
Law Enforcement Against Prohibition
Go dairy, meat free for Lent
Christians are observing the season of Lent, the 40-day period before Easter when many abstain from meat and dairy products in remembrance of Jesus’ 40 days of fasting before launching his ministry.
Devout Christians who observe a meatless Lent help reduce their risk of chronic disease as well as environmental degradation and animal abuse. Many medical reports have linked consumption of animal products with elevated risk of heart failure, stroke, cancer and other serious diseases.
Lent offers a superb opportunity to honor Jesus’ powerful message of compassion and love by adopting a meat-free diet for Lent and beyond.
Every supermarket offers a rich array of meat and dairy alternatives as well as the more traditional vegetables, fruits and grains. Entering “vegetarian” in your favorite search engine provides lots of meat replacement products, recipes and transition tips.