Idle Hands Do Time

Abolish prison and give everyone a gun. The end. Good night. Oh wait, that’s not enough for a column? Okay, how about legalize drugs too? I’m not kidding. I know it sounds outrageous but hate facts often are.

Look, I’m not suggesting we send all the guards home and open up the gates tomorrow. America is too ensconced in prison culture. Most prisoners today have become bad people and it’s because of prison. So, for the sake of the argument, let’s pretend a massive plague killed everyone in prison. It’s a horrific tragedy beyond our control and conspiracy theorists are going to have a field day but it happened. Now can we legalize drugs, abolish prison, and give everyone a gun?

I asked More Guns Less Crime author John Lott about it and his answers were disappointing. Empiricists are no fun. “I don’t know,” he replied. “We don’t have the data.” He did concede that America has an intense prison culture with “38% of black males having a felony background.” He also backed up Bill Whittle’s claim that the remarkably gun-heavy Plano, Texas has pretty much More Guns, Less Crime:... John R. Lott Best Price: $27.73 Buy New $125.00 (as of 03:15 EDT - Details) the lowest crime rate in the world (0.4 homicides per 100,000). Lott is a human Google machine when it comes to guns and crimes and I learned a lot from our conversation. I learned the black family was far more intact in the 1950s and their propensity for crime back then was actually similar to whites. I learned almost nobody gets arrested simply for marijuana possession (0.3% in Arizona) and the vast majority of drug offenses involve trafficking.

He told me the closest we have to my bizarre hypothetical was New York City during the American Revolution when the British banned the NYPD from existing because they were scared it would morph into a militia. This didn’t turn the city into a war zone. Shopkeepers simply hired private security guards with guns and everything turned out fine (until the Civil War).

I’m reminded of the “Baltimore Batman” who fended off looters with a machete last month. Unarmed business owners tend to do really badly during riots. It seems like every time there’s a major shooting, it happens in a gun-free zone. The Batman shooter chose a theater that was very public about its hatred of guns. New York City is about as gun-free as it gets. You go straight to jail whether your gun is bb, paint, or scuba in this town. We’re still at about a murder a day. New York is a perfect example of what happens when only the bad guys have guns.

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