Mean drunks

Another drunken birthday party, another murder.

Man gets drunk celebrating his 26th birthday, paws a woman in a diner, then shoots and kills another man for trying to intervene. Janet Shan at Hinterland Gazette says “Some people shouldn’t be allowed near a gun.”

Why not say (instead or in addition) “Some people shouldn’t be allowed near a bottle”? Or even “Bars shouldn’t be allowed to send patrons out drunk”? Having chosen to legalize alcohol, must we accept the resulting carnage, or should we try to do something about it?

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact:

7 thoughts on “Mean drunks”

  1. Of course it all comes down to the journalistic convention that alcohol is not a “drug.”

  2. Way to miss the proximate cause. Maybe we should REALLY nip ‘er in the bud & outlaw birthday celebrations?

    The guy might or might not have shot someone had he been sober. He would not have shot anyone had he been unarmed.

  3. More grist for your mill Mark…
    Although I am sure you’ve seen the PLOS ONE source:
    I don’t think you’ve incorporated these “costs” into your alcohol calculus just yet.
    But that’s hard and fuzzy math: What’s the social cost of 3.5 IQ points in god knows how many children?

    The New Scientist article that sent me to PLOS ONE, actually gets my science journalism of the year award.
    It’s wonderfully written, concise, and introduces Mendelian randomization to the general reader.
    That technique is going to be huge….

    Last week, the method burst into the public arena, with the finding that moderate drinking during pregnancy lowers the future IQ of a developing fetus …

  4. I have to agree with Anderson on this one. I think it’s the gun that so often transforms a temporary failure of judgment into a tragedy. I remember years ago as a new lawyer being involved in a case where a man had been in a bar drinking instead of being at home having dinner with his family on Christmas Eve.

    When he came home, his wife was angry. Dinner was ruined. The kids had been crying because daddy wasn’t there for Christmas dinner. The mother yelled at the kids and sent them to bed. It was well after midnight when the husband returned home. He demanded food, his wife gave him a bowl of corn flakes and went into the bedroom. The husband got his pistol, went into the bedroom and killed his wife. I remember the case because it was Christmas and because the kids were “camping out” next to the bed and their mother’s blood dripped on them.

    I know it sounds absurd but this guy was the not worst person in the world. He wasn’t a hardened violent criminal or some kind of a caricature from a Chuck Norris move. I’m sure he felt genuine remorse the instant his wife’s blood began to flow. This was a very troubled family living in very difficult circumstances. My memory is they fought a lot and the police were called to many domestic disturbances at their home.

    Without the gun, that’s all that Christmas would’ve been. It would have been just another domestic call for the district car. No homicide. It really was the gun in the house that made the difference.

    1. Yes, and the same applies to rich successful people, too, like the murder/suicide committed by the Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher. If he hadn’t had a gun, I believe he and his girlfriend would both still be alive: his rage wouldn’t have been fatal (no murder,) and neither would his resulting remorse (no suicide.)

  5. This could be solved simply, the same way we solve the dangerous problem of driving automobiles:

    Require registration of both guns (cars) and gun owners (drivers). Require safety training in order to get a gun license. Require a liability insurance policy to cover both guns and owners, just as we do for cars and drivers. If you can’t afford the insurance policy, then you may not have the gun.

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