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Male psychology: these young men derive their sense of dignity and self-worth from the heightened sense of power that comes from violence. Providing more mental health resources to these communities would surely be helpful at the individual level, but as far as solutions go, it's laughable to suggest it would result in a significant reduction in violence. What these men need is the opportunity to take real risks and have real power [1].

Conservatives dunk on poor urban communities by attacking their family structure, and while I agree that the low marriage rates are a direct causal result of a lack of economic opportunities for young men in these communities, I am pessimistic about the efficacy of throwing money at these communities in the form of tax credits, because it doesn't address the fundamental psychological needs of these men. It's the same reason why the working poor hate people who rely on government benefits (ala Oliver Anthony, or see [2]).

Restricting gun sales is insufficient. Ignoring the fact that it's a complete non-starter at the federal level, most of the guns used in gang-related homicides are illegally acquired [3]. As it turns out, cracking down on illegal firearms is a proven effective way to reduce violence in cities. But the methods involved are likely to be labeled as racist, by the same people (educated progressive technocrats) who are interested in improving the lives of people in these communities.

Which leads me to: What problem are we trying to solve, and for whom? If it's a reduction in violent crime in cities, then the answer is pretty straightforward: more police, and policing focused on random searches and removing firearms. But I suspect the program here is a bit more ambitious: How do we improve the lives of men in these communities, such that we break the cycle of urban violence? While I applaud the well-intentioned and genuine concern shown here for these individuals, I am pessimistic about the tenability of a policy solution. And I also think it's--though unintentionally--hugely disrespectful to these communities. People like you and me are outsiders to this community. The conservatives are cruel to suggest that the bootless should pull themselves up by their bootstraps, but it's also condescending and humiliating to think that you can solve their problems for them.

I have no good solution. But it's also not my problem to solve: not because I am indifferent, but because I respect the humanity and right to self-determination of a group of people that I do not belong to.

[1] Charles Johnston, "Addicted to Violence: Has the American Dream Become a Nightmare", Center for Media Literacy https://www.medialit.org/reading-room/addicted-violence-has-american-dream-become-nightmare

[2] Lisa R Pruitt, "What Republicans Know (and Democrats Don’t) About the White Working Class", Politico Magazine https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2022/06/24/democrats-white-working-class-00041807

[3] Matt Yglesias, "The Illegally Carried Handguns are the Problem", Slow Boring Substack https://www.slowboring.com/p/the-illegally-carried-handguns-are

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I look at the statistics and 2/3 of all gun deaths are suicides, which is another problem, and then half the remaining (1/2 of 1/3) are already identified criminals killing other criminals, both sides probably in the group you described here (some in poor communities of other ethnicities), half the remaining after that (1/4 of 1/3) are domestic violence, half the remaining after that are police killings, and it gets fuzzy after that. A significant fraction of what remains are self defense.

From a harm reduction point of view, if we don’t overturn the second amendment (which I oppose for reasons) you need ways to peacefully (and potentially temporarily) disarm the serious suicidal depressive folks; then break the cycle you describe well here, then get weapons and vulnerable partners away from domestic abusers. Then teach police how to deescalate and use force less and less force when force is necessary. Pilot programs show a very significant decrease there.

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