Gang Violence: What Would Libertarians Do?

By Doug Newman
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Originally posted elsewhere on January 12, 2007.

RB is a Christian friend who is of sound mind on political matters. He is no fan of either the present administration or of big government in general. He writes:

“I watched Peter Boyles’ talk show last night on PBS. They covered gangs and the Darrent Williams’ murder and all that gang-related stuff. Denver is not LA or NY, but we have a problem with gangs, something the politicians, churches (not the inner city churches) and us honkies in south suburban-land (i.e. Littleton, Centennial, Highlands Ranch) are not willing to look at or deal with. Your thoughts on that subject, especially being from back East, etc.”

darrent07I replied:

Thanks for writing. The tragic shooting death of Bronco cornerback Darrent Williams may well have been gang related. Thus it has got everyone asking: “What should we do about gangs and gang violence?” My thoughts on the subject are shaped not so much by my growing up in New Jersey – in a honky suburb – but by my Christianity and libertarianism.

People who ask “what should we, as a society, do” about a given problem always conclude that we need more laws, policies and programs as if we did not have enough already. America has more social programs than any other country on the planet.

Insanity is doing the same thing again and again and expecting different results. We drive ourselves crazy enacting more and more laws, policies and programs while the problems we attempt to solve get worse and worse.

Here are just a few suggestions:

  • The words “solve” and “problems” do not appear in the Constitution. The idea that government could solve problems was totally foreign to the Founders. Moreover, the idea that we could render our problems unto Caesar so the he could solve them has zero basis in Scripture. Utopia is not an option. Gang violence will never be totally eliminated no matter how many laws, programs and policies are in place.US_incarceration_rate_timeline
  • End this absolutely insane War on Drugs, which is totally unconstitutional under the Ninth and Tenth Amendments. We have a nightmare on our hands that we never could have envisioned in 1937 when we started outlawing hippy lettuce. After 70 years and God knows how many billions of dollars, we have more drugs than ever; more dangerous drugs than ever and – in the land of the free – the world’s highest incarceration rate. Moreover, just as alcohol prohibition resulted in huge profits for the likes of Al Capone and Joe Kennedy, Sr., drug prohibition makes drug trafficking extremely lucrative for the Crips, the Bloods, MS-13, etc. (Moreover, because it is illegal, drug dealing is a cash business and tax free.) Legalizing drugs would minimize the profit and largely defund the gangs.
  • Repeal all gun laws. The original gun laws in America were put in place to disarm racial minorities. Gun control only disarms law abiding citizens. Criminals, by definition, have zero respect for gun laws. Compton, Bed-Stuy and New Orleans’ Ninth Ward are killing fields because only the criminals have guns. Let everyone be armed, keep would-be criminals guessing and watch the crime rate plummet.minimum wage cartoon
  • Repeal all minimum wage laws. If you know anything whatsoever about economics, you know that when you mandate a price above the market price, you immediately create a surplus of the commodity in question. Unskilled labor is no exception to this rule. Why is teenage unemployment so tragically high in the inner cities? It is because Uncle Sam has forced employers to pay an unjustifiably high wage to unskilled workers. Where is a teenager in the hood better off? Employed at $4 per hour or unemployed because of a mandated wage of $6.85 per hour? The true minimum wage is zero. No wonder drug dealing looks so appealing.
  • Stop asking Uncle Sam to be our national parent. Someone once remarked that while Democrats want to be your Mommy and Republicans want to be your Daddy, libertarians believe you are an adult and that you can look after yourself. Seventy-plus years after the New Deal, forty-plus years after the Great Society and fifteen years after Dan Quayle’s “family values” speech, I think we can conclude one thing: there is no substitute for family. The family is God’s primary form of government. Families were a whole lot stronger and effective and morals were a world stronger before we started asking government to solve all our problems. 

As a friend used to say, if the only tool you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. If the only tool you have is government, every problem looks like it can be solved by a law, a policy or a program. Again, America has more of this nonsense than any other society in history. All this micromanaging has not worked and will never work.

It didn’t save the life of Darrent Williams. More of the same would still not have saved the life of Darrent Williams.
“Don’t Tempt Us” – the article that prompted me to post this again.
Walter Block wrote something quite similar on today.
If you would like to post this elsewhere, please include a link to this URL and cite me as the author. Also, please don’t the entire article, as I often update things I have written. Thanks!

About Food for the Thinkers

My name is Doug Newman. I live in Aurora, Colorado, just outside Denver. Food for the Thinkers is mostly about the connection between Christianity and libertarianism. Most Christians do not understand libertarianism. And most libertarians do not understand Christianity. Hopefully, this blog helps clear up those misunderstanding. Check out my old page at And remember: When you let people do whatever they want, you get Woodstock. But when you let governments do whatever they want, you get Auschwitz.
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