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Opening Arguments

Hope Cards

This is one of those ideas that is so simple and addresses such an obvious need that when somebody comes up with it we wonder why it took so long:

 Indiana on Tuesday became the third state to allow domestic abuse victims to apply for wallet-sized cards intended to help police take action against abusers who violate court orders.

The free Hope Cards will include the abuse victim's information and details about protective orders or restraining orders they have obtained, along with the name, photo and description of the abuser it covers, Attorney General Greg Zoeller said while visiting the Julian Center, an Indianapolis shelter for domestic abuse victims.

In crisis situations such as a confrontation with an abuser, Zoeller said, victims can't always find or access the multipage court orders police must see before arresting someone for violating an order. Hope Cards will allow abuse victims to more quickly give officers the essentials of their order — and specifics about the person it covers, he said.

And it's so refreshingly low-tech. We're so used to the idea of everything about us being in databases, and those databases being instantly available to all sorts of mobile devices, that we forget how useful a mere piece of cardboard can be. Congratulations to Indiana on being in the vanguard.

Not all government initiatives aimed at coping with violence are effective, of course:

The city of Gary is offering gift cards worth $50 to $100 for guns as a way to try to prevent violence.

[. . .]

Gary Police Chief Wade Ingram says people will be allowed to turn in the weapons anonymously.

He says the buyback program isn't restricted to Gary residents. It runs from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. CDT.

Who really believes these buyback programs do a damn bit of good against violence? The part about not restricting the program to Gary residents seems especially stupid. Hey, got a gun laying around that you might have used to commit a crime? Go dump it anonymously in Gary and get a little gas money for your trouble.

Gun buybacks don't work for the same reason gun control doesn't work. Because the bad guys don't follow the rules, only the good guys are affected. Buybacks represent a naive attempt at a simple solution to a complex problem.