James Jacobs: A Pessimist for Gun Crime Reduction

james-jacobs
James Jacobs

In an intimate interview on Time, James Jacobs, director of Center for Research in Crime and Justice at New York University School of Law, a professor of constitutional law, and the author of Can Gun Control Work?, explains some of his deep sentiments regarding gun control. He claims that “things are really better than they’ve been for decades” in our society in terms of gun crime. He proceeds to discuss the decrease in violent crime and gun crime the United States has witnessed since the early 1990’s despite the increasing number of firearms. At first glance his facts seem valid and difficult to argue but when you take a further glance into the facts he has presented, there are some serious holes in his argument. It is important to address gun violence for the United States as a whole, however, each state facilitates varying gun laws and policies so this feat is impossible when talking statistics. Jacobs’ claim that things are better than they’ve ever been is a skewed perception of reality when examining gun crime. The reason his statistics relating to the decrease in violent crime and gun crime since the 90’s are invalid is because the policies have also tightened up. Gun laws are nowhere near where they were in the 90’s so making such a comparison is practically useless. A more effective and efficient approach to evaluating gun policies is to examine state specific gun laws and compare data from before and after policies changes; similar to the statistics examined in the New York Time’s article on Missouri gun policy.

Jacobs furthers his argument by insisting that our constitution, a document that is over 200 years old, limits our capability of changing gun policies. Such limitations seem idiotic in light of the consequences gun crime and violence hold. Should we all turn a blind eye to hundreds and thousands of deaths from guns because of this outdated constitutional right?

Jacobs truly outdoes himself in another topic regarding mental illness and gun policies. In general, politicians on both side of the gun debate have agreed that more should be done to keep guns away from the mentally ill. Jacobs attempts to seem politically correct in saying that it is extremely difficult to label who is mentally ill and what constitutes mental illness and proceeds to say that creating such a label will hinder anyone with such illness in their decision to seek help. Jacobs is attempting to appeal to the audience’s pathos and he does make a valid point that it is difficult to define what constitutes mental illness, however, the topic of mental illness should not be taken lightly especially in the light of gun crime and violence. Jacobs dances around the topic and sticks to his sentiments that gun policies should not be increased even in an attempt to forbid the mentally ill from obtaining them. As I had mentioned, it is generally agreed upon that state policies should prevent the mentally ill from acquiring firearms but Jacobs reasoning against it is essentially that it would be too much work to accomplish this. Does this constitute not doing anything?

Not only do Jacobs claims lack validity, he seems to purposely tip toe around the questions that he does not have a strong answer to. All in all his arguments against increased gun policies are extremely weak and express a lazy attitude towards possible constructive change.

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Author: Meghan Crocker

Check out my bio at https://gunpolicysite.wordpress.com/2016/03/05/meghan-crocker/

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