Dystopia is not a condition that appears overnight. Its groundwork is laid by people who make decisions and foster policies which, by their consequences sow the seeds of dystopia. This week Tucson began to enter that world when the Armed Citizen Project declared that they wanted to “Take back our city, and it needs to come back to the citizens and not the criminals.” That was the battle cry of Shawn McClusky, realtor, failed politician and Tea Party darling.
McClusky’s cunning plan is to spend $12,000 giving shotguns away in neighborhoods with high violence, an effort to curb crime. That comes out to about 25-30 shotguns introduced into high crime neighborhoods. What could possibly go wrong?
On the surface McClusky’s plan appears to be just a knee-jerk reaction to crime. But it is not. For the past number of years, as Tucson has tried to raise taxes to fund their fire and police departments, McClusky has been front and center to shout the Tea Party mantra of anti-government, anti-spending, and anti-tax; apparently clueless that those economic demands have very serious consequences. And in Tucson, those consequences, since 2009 have included layoffs within the police department, cutting its strength from a recommended 1113 sworn officers in 2009 to 968 in 2013 while the population has increased from 517.000 in 2009 to approximately 600,000 in 2013. Tucson Police Chief Roberto Villaseñor states they are understaffed by 150 officers out of over 1000.
According to Tucson Police Public Affairs Sgt Marie Hawke, there are nearly 100 officers funded under COPS grants, a federal grant program funded through the Stimulus Package of 2009 and now closed to new grant application. This program was strongly opposed by the Tea Party.
With his high profile opposition to Proposition 200 in 2009 and Proposition 400 in 2010, Shawn McClusky has directly contributed to the higher crime problems which he now tries to solve by arming citizens to do police work. The irrational decisions to starve government while, at the same time complain that the police can’t do their jobs defies logic. Yet this is the path Shawn McClusky has chosen, and in helping to build that underfunded public service, he helped create the dystopia which causes irrational, fearful decisions.
This brings us to two things…just how bad is crime in Tucson and what are the consequences of these Tea Party/Armed Citizen Project decisions?
The Armed Citizen Project website says that “Tucson currently has a ranking of 5 out of 100 (100 being safest)” in terms of crime safety, though it fails to name the survey. Looking at the FBI Crime Statistics for 2011, Tucson ranks pretty much in the middle of the cities that have over 200,000 populations. With 652 violent crimes per 100,000 population, it is 35/72, with Detroit being 72/72 with a rate of 2,137 violent crimes per 100,000 population. Like most cities, crime in Tucson is concentrated in several neighborhoods. In most cities this is where the police channel their resources, unless of course they have been constrained from doing so by low-tax, small government zealots who block the revenue streams that fund police departments.
But instead of allowing a city to manage its crime problems in established, proven ways, McClusky wants to arm citizens, using the NRA mantra of “only way to stop a bad guy is a good guy with a gun” even though Arizona has one of the higher gun ownerships rates in the nation, a condition that should mean that there is less crime because of more guns…but apparently panic and fear driven thought are trying to suggest otherwise.
And it brings us to the goal, or perceived goal of an armed citizenry to fight crime in an area where the same folks have fought to defund and underfund the very agency that is tasked with fighting crime. Are we heading back to the Wild, Wild West? Back to a time where every man was armed to fight off marauding hordes of bad guys riding into town. Back to a time when the solution was the Gunfight at the OK Corral rather than a solution involving the rule of law.
In dystopia, and in the paranoia of many of today’s doomsday preppers, one of the most common scenarios is WROL…Without Rule of Law. And in Tucson, one group is beginning the slide to that future, both by defunding the public servants who enforce rule of law and by arming the citizens with shotguns and fear to tear at its very fabric.
McAllister is a life long liberal, environmentalist, Eagle Scout, and even gun owner – born in Harlan, Kentucky and has lived in Southern California, New York City and now resides in Lexington, Kentucky as a Systems Analyst.
You can read more of McAllister’s observations and opinions at Shoot From the Left Hip.