The first step to solving gun-related violence is recognizing that it really has nothing to do with guns and everything to do with people.
Specifically, troubled people. Gang bangers, drug dealers, violent drunks, the mentally ill — these are the people that are responsible for the vast majority of violence in our society.
A 2009 DOJ gang threat assessment, for example, indicated that the country’s 1 million gang members could be responsible for as much as 80 percent of crime in America!
It’s also abundantly clear to us that alcohol plays a factor, and one organization even claims it’s involved in approximately 40 percent of violent crime. And, at least one-third of mass killers have an untreated, serious mental illness.
It goes without saying, but any time we witness a spike in crime we ought to ask ourselves, “What aren’t we doing as a society to get these troubled people the help that they need?”
Because let’s face it, to offer no aid is to be complicit in perpetuating the status quo. Sure, not everyone can be saved or rehabilitated (which is precisely why we exercise our 2A rights) but many can.
So, what can we do?
One man has a program that is showing promise. Larry Burgess runs something called “Next Step,” which is sponsored by the city of Minneapolis, Hennepin County Medical Center, and North Memorial Health Hospital.
The purpose is to stop victims of violent crime from taking revenge on their attacker(s).
Burgess and his team get to work right away following a violent attack by visiting victims in the ER. They work to calm the individual down and put them at ease.
“There was a young man, a victim. He was a little frantic. When I walked in there, he actually said, ‘Oh, it’s good to see somebody back here who looks like me. I feel more comfortable now,’” Burgess told local news affiliate WCCO in a recent interview.
Once the victim is calm they open up the dialogue and discuss the mission of Next Step.
“It’s just speaking a positive message. You will have so much more to offer. Because you are a survivor of this situation, you have a testimony, a powerful message. Your message of you overcame is something these kids, a lot of youth, need to hear,” Burgess explained.
Carlos Morgan was helped by Next Step. The victim of a shooting that put him and another man in the hospital and left his friend, Darius Rogers, dead at the scene, Morgan spoke about the importance of having support in the aftermath of tragedy.
“Anybody who gets hurt, their first thought is to get revenge somehow or some way, and that was my first thought. It was in my mind at the time,” Morgan said.
But through Burgess’ messaging and the support of his team, Morgan opted not to repeat the cycle of violence. Instead, he is looking to help others who find themselves in a similar situation.
“[I’m] hoping when I get healed, go on and pass on the process and help other people,” he said.
Along with counseling, Next Step aims to provide victims with job training and employment, a safe place to live, basic needs, additional medical care, access to educational opportunities, among other benefits.
Thus far it seems to be paying dividends. After a year of implementation, only 3 percent of shooting victims have become victims of violent crime again. Prior to Next Step, a five-year analysis indicated that that number would be as high as 41 percent.
Supposing Next Step is as successful as the figures suggest, why isn’t someone like Michael Bloomberg pouring money into it?
It seems like a no-brainer, especially if one really cares about saving lives and curbing gun-related violence. And it’s not like the former New York City mayor doesn’t have the cash. Bloomberg spent over $1 billion on the last election cycle!
Most of that was wasted on his failed 2020 presidential bid, but tens of millions were also lost trying to get politicians into office who want to disarm America.
Suppose for a moment that Bloomberg took even one-tenth of that sum, $100 million, and put it toward a Next Step-style program. It’s hard not to see how it wouldn’t radically improve the lives of many of the people most at risk of committing acts of violence. It’s hard not to see it having tangible results.
Alas, Bloomberg’s mission isn’t to reduce violent crime by addressing the root cause of the problem: troubled people. No, his mission is to leverage the criminal acts of troubled people to infringe on the 2A rights of law-abiding citizens.
To learn more about the Next Step program click here.