(TMU Op-ed) — Baltimore Mayor Jack Young thinks allowing for public ‘fight clubs’ or boxing rings may reduce gun violence in the city. Young posits that giving people an opportunity to blow off some steam would prevent a simple beef from escalating into a gun battle.
Young discussed his unusual suggestion during a public speech over the weekend:
“You know gun violence is something that has been plaguing this city for 10 years, and you know the murder rate in this city and non-fatal shooting rate in this city has increased. I’m not happy with it and neither should the citizens of Baltimore… There’s mediation. You know if they really want to settle them, we can have them down at the civic center—put a boxing ring up and let ’em go a box it out. The best man win and the beef should be over. Those are some of the things I’ve been thinking about—hoping we can get these people to put these guns down.”
“Gun violence is unnecessary. We can find other means to settle our disputes.” @mayorbcyoung says people should put their guns down and their gloves up in a boxing ring to settle disputes. @wbaltv11 #wbal pic.twitter.com/yq3rux53vi
— Karen Campbell (@KarenCampbellTV) June 3, 2019
The idea of quelling violence in an unconventional way isn’t unique to Baltimore. As the Mind Unleashed reported last week, public punching bags were installed throughout Manhattan, in hopes of giving New Yorkers a way to vent some of their daily frustrations.
And while Baltimore’s mayor is correct that mutual combat should be permitted and would allow people to blow off steam before their feud potentially becomes deadly, his suggestion overlooks the true root cause of the violence. The vast majority of the homicides that occur in Baltimore, and other cities throughout the U.S., are a direct result of the drug war and the complications that come along with the black market drug trade.
As we saw during alcohol prohibition in the past, banning an inanimate object actually creates an incentive for people to find and distribute the banned object on the black market.
Since there is no accountability or means of peaceful dispute resolution within the black market, buyers and sellers are forced to resort to violence as their sole means of handling disagreements.
Eventually, this violence can spill over into the everyday world, affecting everyone’s lives. No one could imagine Budweiser and Miller Lite in a back alley gunfight, but less than a century ago during alcohol prohibition, distributors of the drug were involved in shootouts on a regular basis, just as drug gangs are today.
Of course, all of this violence came to an immediate end when alcohol was legalized. However, it was not long before the establishment found a new crusade in the drug war, which allowed for a continuation of the same policy but with different substances.
Surprisingly, there are a significant number of police officers in the United States who are working to end prohibition because they have recognized that it does not work and actually causes other problems in society, namely an increase in crime and gang violence.
One of the leading groups of law enforcers working to end the drug war is Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP). With how bad gang violence is in Baltimore, it should come as no surprise that a retired Baltimore police officer, Maj. Neill Franklin, served as the executive director of LEAP for several years.
Franklin is among a growing number of law enforcement officials who understand the direct connection between gang violence and the drug war. Perhaps LEAP should call a meeting with Mayor Young and give him some tips on how gang violence can actually be reduced in the city of Baltimore.