By Mugambi Jouet.
Gun violence in modern America persists in the face of irreconcilable views on gun control and the right to bear arms. Yet one area of agreement between Democrats and Republicans has received insufficient attention: punitiveness as a means of gun control. The United States has gravitated toward a peculiar social model combining extremely loose regulations on guns and extremely harsh penalties on gun crime. If someone possesses a gun illegally or carries one when committing another crime, such as burglary or drug dealing, draconian mandatory minimums can apply. These circumstances exemplify root causes of mass incarceration: overreliance on prisons in reaction to social problems and unforgiving punishments for those labeled as “violent” criminals. Contrary to widespread misconceptions, mass incarceration does not primarily stem from locking up petty, nonviolent offenders caught in the “War on Drugs.” Most prisoners are serving time for violent offenses. Steep sentence enhancements for crimes involving guns illustrate how American justice revolves around counterproductive, costly practices that disproportionately impact minorities . . . Full Article.