A Radical Solution to Urban Violence

Getting these dangerous objects off the street is the only option.

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The story is as sorrowful as it is sickening. In Atlanta, a man armed with a handgun tried to rob patrons of a clothing store who had lined up to purchase a pair of $180 sneakers endorsed by basketball great LeBron James. According to the Associated Press, "Witnesses told police a man armed with a gun tried to rob people standing outside the store. But one of the customers drew his own handgun and shot the robber. Police say the suspect ran just a few yards before he fell dead."

This senseless violence, endemic to the nation's inner cities in particular, must come to an end. And the only way to do that is for government to step in and change the equation. That is why, in a break with precedent on my part, I am calling for a ban by the government on the manufacture and sale of these kinds of athletic shoes that seem to be at the root of so much chaos and crime.

As a concession to the rights of free Americans to continue to participate in sporting events and to walk in comfort, it is probably appropriate that some sneakers continue to be available in the marketplace. In fact, it would be eminently reasonable to do so as long as the options were limited to meet the basic needs of consumers without any of the flashy bells and whistles that seem to attract so much crime. So no more $250 high-tops made of leather and high-tech polymers made overseas and endorsed by the latest superstars to shoot hoops. They are just too dangerous to be allowed to be sold freely anymore.

[See a collection of political cartoons on gun control and gun rights.]

Think about it. Children are murdered so that these shoes can be stolen off their feet. As was the case in Atlanta, the mere fact that a new shoe is going on sale becomes a magnet for criminal elements seeking to prey on innocent men, women and teenagers standing in line, their pockets full of cash or credit cards so they can be the first on their block to own the latest celebrity shoe.

In the home the sneakers can prove hazardous, as well. Though there are no reliable studies to back this up, how can it be that people are not injured every day by tripping and falling over a pair of size twelves some teenager has thoughtlessly left lying in the middle of a darkened living room or, worse yet, on a stair landing.

The uber-expensive shoes are a blight on society. And it would do little to reduce the violence associated with them if we only required permits to buy them and a license to sell them. The only true solution is to ban them, limiting choices to white canvas low-tops, black leather high-tops and navy blue running shoes. Remember, our children are at stake.

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