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It’s the criminal; it’s not the gun

DEAR EDITOR:

We have little hope of solving problems if we are unable or unwilling to properly identify them. Our president, and many politicians like him, have spent much time recently discussing “gun violence.”

We don’t have a “gun violence” problem in our communities; we have a “crime” problem. In our community, and communities across the country, we are experiencing a rise in crime, particularly violent crime. This spike in crime is happening because many criminals, including gang members and drug dealers, use guns in our communities. The gun is simply one of their tools. Guns are not “violent.” People are violent. The gun is an object capable of neither good nor bad until in a person’s hands.

To reduce crime, especially violent crime, we must focus on the problem — the criminal. We must enforce existing laws against the relatively small number of people who are committing violent crimes. When a person is arrested for using a gun in a crime, we must remove them from the streets. When a convicted felon is found to be in possession of a firearm, he or she must be prosecuted aggressively and sent to prison. When a criminal gang member or drug dealer is arrested multiple times for offenses involving weapons, we must remove them from our communities.

There are numerous local examples where a person with multiple prior arrests for weapons crimes eventually is charged with a shooting or murder. If we want to reduce murder rates, we must take advantage of every opportunity to remove repeat, violent criminals from our streets before they shoot or kill someone.

These crime-reduction strategies are not new and have been used successfully in the past right here in the Mahoning Valley. Law enforcement officials work together to target violent criminals and aggressively prosecute and sentence felons convicted of weapons offenses.

I believe most citizens, regardless of political affiliation, understand these common-sense actions are effective in reducing crime and keeping our communities safe.

However, too many politicians are quick to blame everything and everyone but the criminal for the significant increase in crime we experience. Many elected officials seem completely out of touch when it comes to identifying the problem of crime and offering solutions. President Joe Biden has promised to crack down on gun dealers and provide money for summer jobs and programs for youth. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently declared gun violence a “Disaster Emergency” and promised to address this emergency “just like we did with COVID.”

God bless the people of New York.

CHUCK HILLMAN

Boardman

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