The Republicans’ rally cry today — just today because it’s something else tomorrow — is “Make America Safe Again.”
I am curious to find out what specific recommendations will come out of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, and, in the meantime, here are some of the recommendations I’m hoping for…
:: A call for reinstatement of the federal ban on assault weapons.
:: A demand for more comprehensive background checks on prospective gun purchasers — wherever and however the sales are taking place.
:: A push for a new seat-belt awareness program, along with stricter enforcement of laws against impaired-driving and speeding.
If the Republicans would promote an agenda like that — not just today but every day until the November general election — I predict their party would soar to the lead in the national polls and that Donald Trump just might beat Hillary Clinton.
…Let me cite some justification — some statistical, some anecdotal — for why my recommendations would go a long way toward making our society safer.
Regarding the availability of guns, including assault-type weapons, all you have to do is watch a few episodes of “The First 48” on A&E to see that much of the senseless crime we read about in the papers and hear about on TV revolves around easy access to weapons and the drug trade.
— Many murderers are youngsters associated with gangs who 1) have guns and 2) quickly resort to gunfire as the way to settle disputes or take revenge for the slightest of slights.
— Many murderers are drug users who 1) have guns and 2) decide they would rather obtain the drugs without paying.
— Many murderers are drug users who 1) have guns, 2) seize any opportunity to take someone else’s cash and 3) kill robbery victims when there is no need to. (They will kill for amazingly small amounts of money — $5, $10, a large jar of change.)
— Some murderers are drug dealers who 1) have guns and 2) are trying to keep other dealers off their turf.
On speeding, drunk driving and seat belts…
— A very informative story by Matt Campbell in today’s Kansas City Star probes the reasons behind the increasing incidence of traffic deaths in the United States. After falling by 31 percent from 2000 to 2013, traffic fatalities jumped nearly 8 percent between 2014 and 2015.
— One reason for the surge: Seat-belt-usage rate in the U.S. was 87 percent, compared with 99 percent in France. Closer to home, the seat-belt usage rate in Kansas was 86 percent in 2014; in Missouri, 79 percent.
— According to a Centers for Disease Control study, speeding contributed to about 9,500 deaths in the U.S. last year, while drunken driving contributed to more than 10,000.
…The path for the Republicans is clear, then, is it not? The formula for a safer American is more careful screening of prospective gun buyers; banning assault-style weapons; pushing seat-belt usage; and cracking down even more on speeding and drunk driving.
Alas, I don’t expect the Republicans in Cleveland to embrace any of my recommended planks.
From what I’ve read, Trump and the Republicans will focus on three topics: what they see as a general “lack of leadership”; what they see as a significant criminal threat from immigrants; and the urgent need for more “law and order.”
Unfortunately, I don’t think Donald Trump is equipped with an internal compass — or common sense — that would point him toward basic steps leading to a safer America. His idea of leadership on this subject apparently is to advocate return to the law-and-order/war-on-drugs era that filled our prisons with hundreds of thousands of people who posed little physical threat to anyone. (I acknowledge that many murders revolve around the drug trade, but if we could significantly reduce the number of guns in circulation in the central cities, the number of homicides would plummet.)
And the obsession with immigrants? Ludicrous. According to the American Immigration Council, the incarceration rate for native-born men is five times higher than the rate for immigrants. Yes, you read about horrifying cases here and there, but it’s clear our home-grown criminals pose a much greater overall threat to society than immigrants.
…I sure am hoping for enlightenment out of Cleveland today, but my gut tells me what we’re going to get is random raving and pointless finger-pointing. So, instead of watching the convention, I might watch a rerun of yesterday’s incredible final round of The Open golf championship in Scotland. Now that was inspirational.