With gun violence in Boston up sharply, one of Mayor Thomas Menino’s top legislative priorities is to strip convicted gun offenders of their right to drive for up to five years. Menino wants to take away something that very few gun offenders have, found a Boston Globe analysis of more than 100 gun convictions last year and state motor vehicle records. Of the 119 gun offenders whose records were reviewed, 79 have already had their driver’s licenses revoked or suspended for other reasons, for offenses from selling drugs near schools to repeatedly failing to appear in court on traffic violations. Just 22 of the 119 have active licenses.
To experts who assert Menino’s proposal is political and not pragmatic, such numbers are further evidence that passage of the mayor’s legislation would have little or no impact on the city’s efforts to curb gun violence. Thomas Nolan , a Boston University criminologist who was a Boston policeman for 27 years, said the proposal is out of touch with the realities of street violence. “These kids are living in a parallel universe from the rest of us,” he said. “It’s basically applying a middle-class standard that would probably work on kids from the ‘burbs. To these kids in their parallel universe, they don’t think about getting their license and driving the family car.” Nolan added: “We have one of the strongest gun laws in the country and that doesn’t deter [offenders]. What makes people think that these people even apply for driver’s licenses or have them at all?”