Gun Violence and the ‘War On Drugs’

By Paul Gallant, Sherry Gallant, Alan J. Chwick, and Joanne D. Eisen

Drug Violence
Gun Violence and the ‘War On Drugs’
AmmoLand Gun News
AmmoLand Gun News

Manasquan, NJ –-( Mass public shootings almost invariably spark heated arguments –not rational debate– about the causes of firearm-related violence.

What fuels the need to harm others? 

Many firearm-prohibitionists, and the generally uninformed public, blame the instrument and its physical characteristics for the actions of depraved individuals who wreak carnage with a firearm. Judging by the array of newly proposed firearm restrictions, one would be led to believe that the presence of a bayonet lug, a folding stock, a pistol grip on a rifle, or a high-capacity magazine on a rifle or handgun, increase the death rate.

Nowadays, mood elevating prescription drugs given to susceptible young loners, movies, video games, bullying, and other causes for psychopathic behavior have been falling out of vogue as the causes of the mass carnage we have been witness to, although there is evidence that all these factors can play a part in the creation of violent behavior.

Research shows that the war on drugs creates a large portion of global and local violence. But this fact remains almost ignored.

Just Google “Drug Murders” in Google Images to see the shocking level of violence.

Yet unless we credibly address the causes of violence, firearms and peaceful firearms owners will continue to take the blame.

Those highly-publicized mass murders which permit firearms-prohibitionists to point to us are indeed horrendous, but they are statistically rare. According to criminologist Grant Duwe, who is employed at the Minnesota State Department of Corrections and is a historian of mass murders in America, “Mass public killings create a huge psychic impact but are actually a small percentage of all U.S. mass murders and a miniscule portion of all murders in general.” In fact, they account for less than 1% of all murders committed in this country. Our media is focused on these incidents, but we gun-owners need to expand the discussion.

What’s often deliberately ignored is the violence resulting from, or accompanying, “the war on drugs.”  The real problem occurs on the mean streets of our inner cities. Those 11,000 or so murders that occur in the “hot spot” ghetto areas, where black on black violence is out of control, skew our statistics to make it look like peaceable gun owners are the cause of all the country’s bloodshed. A report by The U.S. Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, Promising Strategies to Reduce Gun Violence, defines “hot spots” as “specific locales that generate the majority of calls for police service and response to crime,” within high-crime areas.

The report also noted that, with regard to firearm-related violence among drug trafficking gangs:

The risk of being killed is 60 times greater among young gang members than in the general population and in some cities, far higher. For example, the St. Louis youth gang homicide rate is 1,000 times higher than the U.S. homicide rate.

It is peaceable gun-owners like us who are taking the hit for all this carnage.

Periodically, more of our tax dollars are commandeered, rationalized as necessary to create more effective social programs, to be able to provide better policing, to search for black fathers who have deserted their families and who could serve as a source of guidance for their children, inner city development and jobs, and better education. Yet President Obama also includes increasingly harsh firearm restrictions on us as part of the solution to overcome these social shortcomings.

It’s rare to find a rational discussion relating to the amount of violence caused by the drug war, and the illicit use of drugs.  We may not like to admit it, but it’s one war we cannot win. We know that legalizing drugs may not be the best public policy, but what damage has “the war on drugs” done to global and local society?

We need to have an open, objective dialogue about this unwinnable war, and discuss public policy options and implications.

Here’s a start. Dr. Jeffrey Miron, an economist and Senior Lecturer and Director of Undergraduate Studies at Harvard University, explains that violence occurs when prohibitions against goods or services are enforced because there is an increased “inability of drug market participants to settle disputes using the official dispute resolution system.” This occurs globally, and is the cause of a great deal of global violence. However, this fact is frequently ignored and replaced by increasingly hysterical calls for international weapons controls.

In Brazil, after a crackdown on the illicit drug trade, violence –stemming from reprisals among rivals– led to the deaths of 90 police officers and over 200 civilians. The Latin American Herald Tribune reported on March 1, 2013, that “80% of Puerto Rican murders are directly linked to drug trafficking.” In Mexico, President Felipe Calderon resigned amongst criticisms for prosecuting a drug war that increased the number of violent deaths by 700% at the end of 2011, to a grand total of 47,000 deaths. No one knows the total number of violent deaths related to the drug war.

However, the Geneva Declaration Organization (an organization headed by anti-gun Small Arms Survey, and related to the UN), issued a report (the Global Burden of Armed Violence, or GBAV ) in 2008 designed to push for an Arms Trade Treaty (ATT). Using totally flawed statistics, the authors of that report stated that “60% of all violent deaths are committed with firearms….”(see p.5 of report’s URL). 

Totally ignored is the number of violent deaths accruing to the “war on drugs.”  But the authors of GBAV have no qualms in conflating all causes of firearm-related deaths in arriving at a highly inflated figure.

This is then used to trump up support for the need for an ATT, and the need to abolish firearms on a global basis.

An article published in the March 2011 International Journal of Drug Policy, entitled “Effect of Drug War Enforcement on Drug Market Violence,” found that:

The present systematic review demonstrates that drug law enforcement interventions are unlikely to reduce drug market violence. Instead, and contrary to the conventional wisdom that increasing drug law enforcement will reduce violence, the existing scientific evidence base suggests that drug prohibition likely contributes to drug market violence and increased homicide rates and that increasingly sophisticated methods of disrupting illicit drug distribution networks may in turn increase levels of violence.

Could we change the dialogue on firearm-related violence? You bet.

Do we need to look inward and objectively analyze our anti-drug beliefs? You bet.

We are involved in a fight for our children’s sovereignty and the future of our representative republic. After decades of entrenched liberal elite policy, “mopping up” measures won’t do it. Nor will the continuing attitude of global firearm-prohibitionists who believe that American gun-owners consort with demons.

We need to get the truth out about the roots of violent behavior. And part of that truth is that the global drug policy is a large part of the problem.


About The Authors:
Dr. Paul Gallant and Dr. Joanne D. Eisen practice optometry and dentistry, respectively, on Long Island, NY, and have collaborated on firearm politics for the past 20 years. They have also collaborated with David B. Kopel since 2000, and are Senior Fellows at the Independence Institute, where Kopel is Research Director. Most recently, Gallant and Eisen have also written with Alan J. Chwick and Sherry Gallant.

Almost all of the co-authored writings of the authors can be found at, which contains more detailed information about their biographies and writing, and contains hyperlinks to many of their articles. Their recent series focusing on the Arms Trade Treaty can be found primarily at .

Respective E-Mail addresses are: [email protected]Joa[email protected], [email protected], [email protected]

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Ian Mitchell

Thank you for this thought provoking article. I am an Emergency Physician who treats victims of gun violence. This is such an important issue for responsible gun owners and to help persuade people with reason rather than have to fight against further legislationl

My focus is on harm reduction and would encourage the approach of gun advocates supporting an end to the drug war, in the same way that we should be discouraging the use of alcohol around firearms.

Malcolm Kyle

The National Firearms Act of 1934 was actually a direct response to the acute rise in prohibition (1919-33) engendered gun violence. PROHIBITION EQUATES TO MORE VIOLENT CRIME WHICH LEADS TO MORE CALLS FOR GUN CONTROL The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada recently reviewed 15 studies that evaluated the association between violence and drug law enforcement. “Our findings suggest that increasing drug law enforcement is unlikely to reduce drug market violence. Instead, the existing evidence base suggests that gun violence and high homicide rates may be an inevitable consequence of drug prohibition and that disrupting drug markets can paradoxically increase… Read more »