Worried about events far away, I checked on a friend's safety in Mexico following the recent drug cartel slaughter of 20 people in a Monterrey bar.
Mass murder by lone bigots? Hard to see that coming. Drug violence and cartel gun crime? That's a different story with no simple explanation. Something can be done. But what?
Some still grasp at simple explanations. I just read a blog from a combat-cop acolyte suggesting more cops and crackdowns is the way to community safety. Facts and research suggests otherwise.
Michael Scott, director of the Center for Problem Oriented Policing, published The Benefits and Consequences of Police Crackdowns, a study of 42 police crackdowns.
He found that carefully planned gun crackdowns did show some promise when "supported by problem analysis and conducted in a way to safeguard civil rights". Yet half (47%) of the crackdowns in his review had no impact, weren't evaluated or had mixed results.
Fast and Furious
The fact is too many crackdowns have unintended consequences, none more spectacular than the failure of last year's ATF operation Fast and Furious.
The idea was to target Mexican gun runners, provide guns through undercover sales, track and then catch them. That would, supposedly, help stem the flow of American guns feeding the Mexican drug war. The opposite happened.
Fast and Furious resulted in a dead US Border Patrol officer and over 1,500 guns missing, many in drug cartel hands. Some may have even been used in the Monterrey shooting. According to ATF's report to Congress yesterday, the crackdown spiraled out of control. An ATF attache to Mexico called it "insane".
So, what will stop the violence?
A short while ago Emiliano Salinas, son of the former Mexican President, provided ideas for the future on TED.com. Watch it HERE.
He gave examples about how to organize each community and act together. Says Salinas: "The problem is that we play the role of victims. We need a civil response against violence."
Made me think of The Tragically Hip's lyrics in Courage:
So there's no simple explanation
for anything important any of us do
and yea the human tragedy
consists in the necessity
of living with the consequences