In no surprise to anyone who reads social science, more people carrying guns are not making Sioux Falls safer. Sioux Falls Police Chief Jon Thum says more heat-packing is bringing more danger, for civilians and the blue:
“Over the past several years, we’ve just noticed the frequency of us coming into contact with firearms has gone up substantially,” Thum said. “When I first started as a patrol officer, you’d see them here or there. A lot of times may be under a car seat or concealed somewhere. And now we’re just seeing more and more on their person.”
He says the city is also getting more reports of gunshots, and that’s not all that’s changed.
“Really a more confrontational style towards law enforcement that a lot of people have, and what you see is just an alarming trend where people, again, proximity or possession of a weapon, more willingness to use it, getting in conflict with law enforcement and then deciding that that’s a step that they want to take,” Thum said [Dan Santella, “Sioux Falls Police Chief Shares Thoughts on Shootings, Guns, Messaging, Entertainment,” KELO-TV, 2022.07.15].
Chief Thum suggests part of the solution to increasing gun violence lies in deprogramming the culture that glorifies gunplay:
“I think it’s up for young people and for people just to say in general, if you’re going to be associated with guns, if you see this as something that’s an avenue then I’m not going to be involved in that, right, and I’m going to maybe call it out as I see it,” Thum said.
And make sure kids understand the real-life consequences.
“I think many times people watch movies, and they watch TV, and they think like this is just a casual event, right, when an officer has to discharge their weapon in the line of duty. It is not a casual event,” Thum said. “It is not movies, it is not TV, like there’s a real impact, right. There’s a real impact and again, I think people sometimes lose sight of that” [Santella, 2022.07.15].
Chief Thum needs to go further. He needs to say that carrying guns everywhere is a problem, not a solution. He needs to say that, just like every civilian, police themselves can do most of their work without even carrying again, let alone using a gun. He needs to say that, for civilians and police, carrying a gun does not make anyone safer.
Of course, a guy who wears a gun to work telling us not to carry guns is perhaps not the best messenger to help deprogram a gun-crazy culture. We need everybody to stop idolizing guns… or we just need to put our money where our mouth is and launch an Australia-style gun buyback program. After Australia’s gun buyback, gun suicide dropped 57% and gun homicide dropped 42%.
Take guns off the streets, off people, and fewer civilians and cops will die by bullet. Plus, a gun buyback would allow more Sioux Fallsians to buy luxury sneakers.