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Mobs, Jobs, and the Need for a National Gang Prosecution Law

(Loren Elliott/Getty Images)

“Putting Georgia gang membership calculations into chilling context, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia Bobby Christine imparted, ‘Think about that. At its height, ISIS probably didn’t have 35,000 members.'”

On the eve of the 2018 midterm elections, President Trump demonstrated his renowned capacity for branding by declaring at rallies that, “Democrats produce mobs, Republicans produce jobs.” In classic Trumpian fashion, his latest sloganeering, Mobs versus Jobs, polarized both devotees and detractors.

The reactions of the divided camps illustrate. Emblematic of the pro-Trump contingent, Trish Regan of FOX Business Network, effusively characterized Mobs versus Jobs as “brilliant.” Trump adversaries countered with predictably parochial, perfunctory, shrill and superficial sanctimony. Exemplary was an MSNBC host who reportedly exclaimed, “The mobs I see are people who go to Trump rallies.”

Neither of these cadres, however, appears to have explored whether Mobs versus Jobs is factually sustainable on its face. To the extent that the term “mobs” equates with criminal street gangs, recent commentary provides support.

Firebrand conservative opinion-maker Phil Kent recently observed that, “per Obama’s Administration, Eric Holder’s Department of Justice and Robert Mueller’s FBI,” a 2011 federal government study revealed:

  • 1.4 million gang members and 33,000 gangs operating in the United States;
  • Gang membership increased by 400,000 (40%) in just two years (2009-2011); and
  • Gangs are responsible for an average of 48 to 90 percent of American violent crime, depending on the jurisdiction.

Providing potently practical frames of reference, Kent further:

  • Explained that the 2011 federal gang calculations parallel the total number of U.S. military troops as of 2017, according to The New York Times journalism;
  • Alluded to the fact that critics have chided the 2011 federal gang estimate as “sanitized” due to “extensive cleansing and under-reporting;” and
  • Referenced academic research indicating that actual gang membership numbers may triple government calculations.

Upon considering the foregoing, Kent forcefully concluded that federal statistics demand a “call for national action against gangs that President Barack Obama never took.”

To Kent’s point, no set of federal statutes specifically tailored to prosecute gangs was signed into law during the Obama Administration. Moreover, there seems to have been little political or media pressure to pass one. The relentless growth and intensifying criminality of gangs during that period—and since—establishes that gangs are the beneficiaries of this neglect.

Mobs, indeed. But what about “Jobs?”

Experience in Georgia elucidates the devastating impact that gangs inflict on economies. In 2018, the Georgia Gang Investigators Association placed Peach State gang membership at over 70,000. Weeks later, the FBI opined that 50,000 gang members inhabited Metro Atlanta, alone. Putting Georgia gang membership calculations into chilling context, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia Bobby Christine imparted, “Think about that. At its height, ISIS probably didn’t have 35,000 members.”

Is it any wonder, then, that Georgia plummeted five ranks in CNBC’s 2018 list of “Top States for Business?” Likewise, Atlanta has previously placed as Number 6 in the Forbes “Most Dangerous U.S. Cities” list. Crimes of violence and illegal drugs—both highly gang-related—form the backdrop of these regressive economic ratings.

So, the growth of “mobs” costs jobs.

Although perhaps not “checkmate,” Mobs versus Jobs is certainly more sustainable than the rank-and-file reproaches it received. A simple examination of easily accessible, Obama-era gang statistics confirms this. And while there are certainly any number of individual Democrats who have been dedicated to anti-gang initiatives, the failure of the Obama Administration and its adherents to enact a national gang prosecution law provides additional validation for the Trumpian hypothesis.

Of course, the central weakness in Mobs versus Jobs is that Republicans have likewise failed to pass a federal gang prosecution law. Yet, this shortcoming appears immune from critique by Democrats or the Mainstream Media. As a practical matter, it is highly unlikely that the Left’s deficiencies here will change in the foreseeable future.

Enter a watershed opportunity for President Trump. The enactment of a federal law dedicated to eradicating gangs would distinguish President Trump and prove that he is willing to take decisive, enduring, and historic action against this megalithic menace. Backers would inevitably unleash scores of overwhelming statistics concerning gangs and gang crime, which exploded under a White House and Department of Justice controlled by Democrats. President Trump’s credibility would be commensurately amplified. His opposition, easily characterized as “pro-gang, anti-victim, and ignoring their own statistics,” would be decimated, imprisoned in a paralyzingly painful political paroxysm of their own making.

Passage of a federal gang prosecution law would benefit the nation by directly combatting America’s greatest public safety threat. The process of enacting such a law would politically elevate President Trump. In the end, a national gang prosecution act would combat mobs and promote jobs.

Plus, as these Authors have noted, to paraphrase another, well-known Presidential slogan, a federal gang prosecution law would help make America greater—by making it safer—again.

Vic Reynolds is the District Attorney for the Cobb Judicial Circuit in Metro-Atlanta, Georgia. Mike Carlson serves as the Deputy Chief Assistant District Attorney for District Attorney Reynolds’ Gang Prosecution Unit. Both have been honored by the Georgia Gang Investigators Association for their efforts against criminal street gangs. 

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