When a hail of bullets extinguished dozens of lives at an elementary school last month, the ugly consequences of the nation’s gun culture shot into the media spotlight. The debate around gun control in the aftermath of Newtown has yielded confused policy proposals like further militarizing schools, or preemptively tracking mentally ill people.
But a key aspect of the gun-control debate remains hiding in plain sight. There's a major driver of gun violence in the U.S. that is neither the bloodlust of the “criminally insane” nor the weakness of public security forces. Failed gun policy is a manifestation of another, arguably more expansive, irrational policy regime: the War on Drugs. While the most spectacular incidents of mass murder spark public panic, a more relevant, yet typically ignored, source of gun violence lies in the brutality born of the gun industry’s marriage to drug prohibition policies.