Saturday, December 08, 2007

The Annapolis Gun Project?

In the wake of yet another shooting in the City of Annapolis, again in one of the public housing neighborhoods, it's long past time to start wondering if we shouldn't change the way that we approach violence in our communities, particularly drug-related violence. The capacity of local municipalities to affect the supply side of the drug equation is essentially nil, which to my mind, is a good thing. It's a waste of time and money.

So what can Annapolis and Anne Arundel County do on the demand side, and how might they be able to reduce the violence associated with drugs? Let's not forget that 8 people have been murdered in Annapolis so far this year (and an astounding 269 murders have occurred in Baltimore in 2007).

One program that has been remarkably effective elsewhere is the Boston Gun Project, which has focused on getting young gang/drug trade involved men to put down their guns by involving local clergy, the law enforcement staff, and community leaders in an "intervention" of sorts. The full results of the program in Boston can be found here [pdf], but even a sampling is impressive: a 63% reduction in youth homicides, a 32% decrease in "shots fired" calls, and a 25% decrease in gun assaults. My only question is: why aren't we trying this here? Why aren't we trying this everywhere?

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