A current proponent of this law is Mike Villines, a Republican who represents
However, this law may not be as effective as he claims. Consider the homicide rate in
It is possible that the “10-20-lifeâ€ law did not deter some of the accused youth and older suspects. That possibility does not justify the violent crimes the suspects are accused of, but can expand our understanding of this awful trend.
Opponents might argue that any attempt to better understand the factors driving such criminal behavior empowers lawbreakers. This is an argument against gathering more facts in an attempt to prevent future deaths by firearms.
Being safe from gun violence in oneâ€™s community and home are commonly-held values. People have, and expect that right. Thus, there is little need for a campaign of public awareness to so educate the citizenry.
By contrast, reforming a law on the books requires public education: interviews, research and studies. For example, this type of social investigation into Sacramentoâ€™s spike in homicides could yield new insights, potentially some of them shedding light on unintended consequences of Californiaâ€™s “10-20-lifeâ€ law.
Such an educational campaign could uncover that some individuals convicted of gun violence knew of the “10-20-lifeâ€ law before their criminal behavior. If so, than this law is not the deterrent that Villines claims it is.
It is time to think outside the box to prevent more senseless gun deaths in
One policy with long-time credibility in the public health arena is disease prevention. Gun violence is many things. I suggest that calling it a social disease is a legitimate description.
Therefore, the California Legislature should launch public hearings on gun crimes and punishments. Take testimony from people in
Probing the links between high rates of unemployment and imprisonment in
Meanwhile, the state has a festering crisis of prison overcrowding, with about 172,000 inmates. Some of them are being forcibly relocated to other states to address the pressure cooker inside
Against this backdrop, Villines dismisses reforming the â€œ10-20-lifeâ€ law. Instead, he prefers to build new prisons to house
If this law is not producing the promised outcomes, it is time to gather fresh evidence for policymakers and the public to see more clearly whatâ€™s at stake, and then proceed accordingly. It may turn out that reforming
Seth Sandronsky is a member of Sacramento Area Peace Action and a co-editor of Because People Matter,