Gangs: should they be lawfully protected?

The following appears on the FBI website:

33,000 violent street gangs, motorcycle gangs, and prison gangs with about 1.4 million members are criminally active in the U.S. and Puerto Rico. Many are sophisticated and well organized; all use violence to control neighborhoods and boost their illegal money-making activities, which include robbery, drug and gun trafficking, prostitution and human trafficking, and fraud. Many gang members continue to commit crimes even after being sent to jail.

Read more here: Violent Crime Report on Gangs (FBI)

With their significant numbers, and the violence with which they are known, we thought we’d take a look at some of the arguments about their right to exist.

Gangs should be illegal.

there has been an increase in violent crime in the U.S.

In the Time magazine article linked below, a report looking back at 2016 shows an increase in homicide, robbery and aggravated assault in the U.S..

Violent Crime Is On the Rise in U.S. Cities (Time)

Most violent crime in the U.S. is committed by gang members who are involved in the sale and distribution of drugs

making gangs illegal has been done before

In 2010, after a brutal gang attack on a local passenger bus, El Salvador made it illegal to belong to a gang, with a mandatory four to six years in prison for the crime.

In El Salvador, having a gang –related tattoo is enough proof of membership.

even though first amendment rights protect the right to assemble shouldn’t common sense prevail, and shouldn’t we be allowed to shut down dangerous gangs?

The first amendment:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

The first amendment has been used to defend the gang’s right to “assemble” on street corners and other places.

But, how can the rights of gang members be protected when gangs take over neighborhoods through violence and bullying? Doesn’t common sense mean we should be able to do something?

Gangs are legal, and here to stay.

the first amendment protects them

Courts are super careful about ruling against controversial groups. For example, even though the KKK is almost universally disliked, our constitution protects their nonviolent right to assemble.

making gangs illegal targets the wrong thing

The most effective way of decreasing gang membership isn’t by passing rules that prohibit them but by providing safe spaces for our youth and by increasing policing.

El Salvador’s legislation against gangs hasn’t helped

September in El Salvador saw 435 homicides — almost 15 per day — making it the country’s most violent month in 2017.

perceived threat of violence in the country may be “off”

Even with the recent increases, crime remains near all-time lows.


Back to the News Made Simple article here.

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