Keep Off the Grass! An Alternative Approach to the Gun Control Debate

39 Pages Posted: 11 Sep 2010

See all articles by Lance Michael Lindeen

Lance Michael Lindeen

Indiana University - Maurer School of Law


Most voices in the traditional gun control debate call for the government to enact or repeal laws and formulate policies to achieve a range of ends: from absolute prohibition of firearms to total access to guns, with a variety of prescriptions between the two extremes. However, advocacy for or against gun control to solve the issue of gun violence offers a myopic perspective, one that merely perpetuates a bloody stasis by analyzing the issue through the narrow lens of regulating hardware - guns and ammunition - rather than addressing some of the reasons why people use guns in the first place.

This Comment proposes an alternative solution: the use of law and policy to reduce gun violence through the broad decriminalization of controlled substances, initially marijuana.

In economic terms, drug users (consumers) demand marijuana as a “good” traded by drug dealers (suppliers) in a system of illicit commerce. Unlike suppliers of legal goods, however, suppliers in the prohibited drug trade have neither the ability to draft legally enforceable contracts nor access to the court system to ensure performance. Absent legal remedies, drug traffickers resort to violence - typically using guns when weapons are employed - or the threat of violence as tools of their trade to secure supplies, enforce agreements, settle disputes, and protect turf for point-of-sale transactions. For the bulk of marijuana distributed in the United States, the number of suppliers is limited to those willing to break the law - usually large-scale drug trafficking organizations - by trafficking in a controlled substance (and frequently using violence to protect their trade).

This Comment considers the stalemate in the debate over gun control as a systemic failure of both gun control adherents and detractors to decrease the incidence of gun violence and, instead, offers an initial step - the decriminalization of marijuana - to reduce some demand for illegal guns and their use in the drug trade. There is a better solution to the ex ante condition of violence perpetrated through and for the drug trade: treating the issue as a matter of commerce and regulating the trade accordingly.

Keywords: Gun Control, Gun, Firearm, Weapon, Handgun, Fourth Amendment, 4th Amendment, Marijuana, Decriminalization, Legalization, Illegal, Drugs, Violence, Alternative Approach, Public Land, Cartel, Prohibition

JEL Classification: A12, D40, D62, D72, D74, D78, D80, D84, D99, E30, H10, H21, H23, H73, H77, I18, K10, K14, K40, K42,

Suggested Citation

Lindeen, Lance Michael, Keep Off the Grass! An Alternative Approach to the Gun Control Debate. Indiana Law Journal, Vol. 85, p. 1659, 2010, Available at SSRN:

Lance Michael Lindeen (Contact Author)

Indiana University - Maurer School of Law ( email )

211 S. Indiana Ave.
Bloomington, IN 47405
United States
5129714386 (Phone)


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