Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Cash for Guns

It has always bothered me when pundits and commentators criticize but offer no solutions. I can think of one ultra-conservative commentator that has made his living doing this for a long time. If more people were trying to solve problems and less trying to divide us, it might be a better place.

I have written about the problem of guns in the city streets. Although this problem appears to be greatest in Chicago, no Illinois city is immune. Illegal guns breed violence. They are a problem. Gun laws seem to be ineffective and the prisons are overcrowded. But I have a solution: pay to get the guns off the street.

It costs about $25,000 per year to house one prison inmate in Illinois. I don't know how many real years someone sent down for gun actually does. But let's assume it's just one year. $25,000 to keep the person in prison for one year. Add the cost of prosecution to include the arresting police department, paperwork, court appearances, prosecutors, time in the county jail, etc. The cost is probably close to $30,000.

What does the city, county, and state get for $30,000? They probably got a gun off the street and the bad guy goes to prison where he probably learns how to be a better criminal. It appears that getting the gun off the street is the only real value. But $30,000 a gun is a lot.

How about we offer to pay people to bring guns in? No questions asked. Bring in a handgun and walk out with $1,000 cash. A sawed-off shotgun gets $2,000 and a machine gun pays $5,000.

Doesn't this seem to be much sounder fiscally? I am only half joking.

I guarantee this would get more handguns off the street than the cops do making arrests. I think the numbers would be staggering. It would be worse than cash for clunkers. Less guns might mean less shootings. Less shootings could mean less murders. Less murders is a good thing.

Who pays the medical bills for those shot that don't have medical insurance? We do. Insurance rates are raised to cover the uninsured. If someone gets shot up really good and needs surgery, the medical costs along could reach $100,000. Someone is paying at least some of that and it's not the person that was shot. And I have yet to see one convicted shooter ordered to pay restitution for the medical bills of the victim.

If our country can spend its way out of a recession, surely we can spend our way out of a crime problem. More cops and more prisons are not the answer. It's been tried. It hasn't worked. We need a new plan.



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