Uncharted: end gun violence – send murderers off to war
Publisher Jarrette Fellows, Jr. offers a novel idea to stem the tide of gun violence that leads to murder
How to deter gun violence: convictions for first-degree murder should lead to one-year combat tours and honorable discharge
When it comes to gun violence, the problem with America’s criminal justice system is, the sentences often don’t fit the crime — especially murder, specifically murder in Urbia, where the bloodletting on the street nearly equates to fratricide. Judges and juries routinely send convicted murderers to prison, but it doesn’t appear to be much of a deterrent. The prison population across America is swelling with Young Urban Males (YUMs), not decreasing.
In fact, it may be welcoming to some would-be urban outlaws who may favor lock-up over freedom in their impoverished communities where, joblessness, homelessness and lack of economic opportunity — wholesale disenfranchisement, if you will, perpetually remand them on the outskirts of the American Dream.
There were more Black males under correctional authority in 2015 than in 1850 post-slavery America … more imprisoned than in apartheid South Africa. Clearly, YUMs as candidates for penal incarceration are increasingly stumbling into the pitfalls that lead to a loss of freedom.
That’s a story for another column. But murder is never an excuse to placate anger and frustration. It is very clear more creative punitive measures are a must for the judicial system to regain the respect — if not the fear — of the criminal element in Urbia.
I will narrow the focus to this American scape where crime is relentless and increasing daily.
Good people are sitting ducks
Over the past 12 years, 2003 was the year that the murder rate in Los Angeles reached its peak. The Los Angeles Police Department, that year, recorded more than 600 homicides. Half were committed in South L.A. by misdirected YUMs who harbor powerful illegal and unregistered weapons like 45. and 357. caliber handguns, sawed-off shotguns, and automatic assault rifles like AK-47s.
Judging from the numbers killed by guns in 2003-2015, and in prior years — in the tens of thousands — the police and county sheriff’s departments are hard-pressed to ‘protect and serve.’ Good people are sitting ducks.
It also means that wayward YUMs have little fear of the judicial gavel, which provides for a weak deterrent to murder. For one thing, California is not nearly as notorious as Texas in laying down the hammer of capital punishment. Murder someone here and you won’t die in the gas chamber or by lethal injection, but you will get a long sentence, probably life, depending on the circumstances of the crime.
What’s wrong with this picture? Clearly it is ineffective as a deterrent to murder. Remember, 600 persons in L.A. were murdered, most likely shot to death in 2003.
The judicial system should allow for more creativity in meting out punishment for gun violence. If vicious murderers will not be handed a death sentence then they should be sent to a war zone where U.S. military forces are present. Especially urban terrorists with their finger perpetually on the trigger.
An alternative to prison
The killing fields of Afghanistan would be a good place to drop off urban gunslingers convicted of murder. It makes little sense to continue sending these violent perpetrators to prison; that’s where they hone their morbid tendencies funded by public taxes — yours and mine.
Let’s be clear. I’m not advocating rounding up YUM gunslingers, piling them into military cargo/troop jets and parachuting them into a war zone where the U.S. is engaged. Following convictions for first-degree murder, they should be drafted against their will into the U.S. army, and subjected to boot camp like regular soldiers. Following training they would be relegated to one-year combat tours subject to all of the rules of engagement, followed by honorable discharge if they survive the tour.
Those who survive would be permitted to return to the U.S. under certain conditions similar to those given by the parole board. The crime of murder for which they were convicted would not be expunged, but remain on their record for life. A return to urban gun violence, for instance, would mean a return to the war zone.
Okay, sure the American Civil Liberties Union will shout that this is a violation of their civil liberties. But what about the civil liberties they took from the people they murdered? How about the increasing numbers of small children and babies who are being killed in the errant crossfire of rival gang sets? What about their civil liberties?
If it’s mayhem these killers lust for, then a system should be devised whereby perpetrators of violent crimes like drive-by shootings and robberies — once convicted — should be subjected. This represents a creative solution that killers would not so easily mock — not when others are capable of shooting back at them, seeking to do great bodily harm.
It’s a different story when someone’s firing back
Street violence is easy for urban gun-toters when no one is armed but them — that’s cowardly. But in a war zone like the highly dangerous cities, towns and small hamlets of Afghanistan, where people routinely fire automatic weapons, shoulder-held missile launchers and grenade launchers, I’m not so sure YUMs with innocent blood on their hands would fare so well. It’s a different story when someone’s firing back.
The ACLU might consider it cruel to send urban war mongers to a war zone, but is it really cruel? Is it cruel to send a street gangster to a war zone who was convicted of firing into a crowd of people, killing a toddler when his bullet lodged into her cranium, entering through her right eye, as was the case in 2001 near Chesterfield Park in South L.A.? I served as editor of another newspaper in South L.A. when we published this tragically egregious story.
Is it cruel to send gang thugs to a war zone who murder their victims with armor-piercing bullets loaded into their automatic assault rifles targeted only to soft flesh? Think of that baby in the park. She hadn’t yet reached her second birthday.
The callousness of real war may serve to shock these gun-toters to their senses — that violence is insane, indeed, and that fratricide perpetrated against themselves defies all description.
Those who may decry this as one solution to the fratricide in Urbia, should themselves voluntarily take up residence in Urbia for one year, then re-visit a solution to mere imprisonment where inmates are provided three square meals, healthcare, recreational privileges, and shelter from the elements.
Please post your comments here, and let me know what you think of this idea.