Say you’re the mayor of a crime-ridden city that is closing facilities due to budget shortfalls, and only five years ago became the largest city in U.S. history to declare bankruptcy. Your citizens are demanding an end to the violence. What do you do?
If you’re Stockton, Calif., Mayor Michael Tubbs, you identify the 50 people most likely to commit crimes using a gun—and offer to cut them a check.
The 27-year-old mayor’s program, called Advance Peace, offers 18 months of counseling, life coaching, job training and daily check-ins to would-be shooters, with the goal of cutting shootings in half over the next four years. Enrollees would also be offered “transformative travel” (consisting of a trip to a theme park), along with a $1,000-per-month stipend for enrollees who stay the course.
In its pilot city of Richmond, Calif., the program has fallen far short of expectations. Despite the promise of cash payouts, a full 30 percent of participants have committed offenses again. Moreover, according to the Richmond Police Officers Association, the group has refused to work with law enforcement. “In fact,” a spokesperson said, “they have worked hard to usurp the justice we work hard to serve our community.”
We’ve got a better idea: Remove the red tape restricting Californians’ right to self-defense, and put criminals on notice that their next target could be their last.