Newsweek Op-Ed: War on Drugs Causes Half of Gun Deaths

gun violence
Weapons seized from suspected members of the Broadway Gangster Crips street gang in Los Angeles, on June 17, 2014. Seventy-two people linked to the gang were charged in a series of murders, robberies and drug sales, according to police. Jay Stooksberry writes that drug-related homicides reach as high as 50 percent of the total homicides in the United States. photo from newsweek.comphoto from newsweek.com

An opinion piece posted on newsweek.com raises some interesting counterpoints to the basic elements at the core of the gun control argument.

At the onset, the piece likens the United State’s war on drugs to alcohol prohibition laws in the early 20th century and the steady rise in homicide rate seen between 1920 and 1933.

"Fast-forward 82 years, and we are in the midst of Prohibition 2.0. This time we call it the war on drugs, and its impact is even more deadly," writes Jay Stooksberry.

“If concerned citizens want to get serious about reducing gun violence, the should be encouraged to focus less on policies that are ineffective—“assault weapons” bans, gun buyback programs, and outright confiscation—and focus more on ending our failed, four-decade-long, overly militarized, trillion-dollar battle against narcotics,” he continues.

Stooksberry goes on to put gun violence in perspective. While guns are used in nearly three-fourths of all American homicides, he points out that as many as half of those murders are drug-related.

“What typically brings gun control to the forefront of our political dialogue is the recurring tragedy of a mass shooting. However, mass shootings receive a disproportionate amount of media attention considering how much they actually contribute to our national homicide rate,” he writes. “…the violence caused by the drug war overshadows the bloodshed of mass shootings. Though difficult to quantify due to inconsistent reporting, estimates of drug-related homicides reach as high as 50 percent of the total homicides in the United States.”

"Though recent tragic events shock the collective conscious, it is important to consider them in perspective: specifically, what is truly killing so many people. The war on drugs is less of a spectacle than these mass shootings; instead, it is a slow-killing, institutionalized type of violence," Stooksberry writes.