Society

New Proposal Could Create Police Registry for Neighborhood Watchmen

| by Dabney Bailey
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Who watches the watchmen? The answer to that question could soon be state and local police.

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, recently announced she would introduce new legislation that would slash federal spending to any state that does not require neighborhood watch programs to register with police.

This proposed bill is obviously in reaction to the George Zimmerman verdict. Zimmerman was part of his local neighborhood watch, which has provoked cries of vigilantism.

"We will ... decrease the incidence of gun violence resulting from vigilantes by reducing by 20 percent the funds that would otherwise be allocated ... to any state that does not require local neighborhood watch programs to be registered with a local [law] enforcement agency,” Jackson said.

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The controversial Stand-Your-Ground law is also under fire.

"For states that do not require a duty to retreat, we will question their federal funding and assess their Justice Department funding and reduce it by 20 percent … Let's speak to the pain of the American people," Jackson said. "Let's look at ways of fixing the law."

Lee’s law will likely face opposition from self-defense advocates. Gun-rights supporters have long rallied against any sort of gun registry, so it is also likely they would oppose a law requiring neighborhood watchmen to register with the police.

The bill could also be ineffective in that neighborhood watches could easily circumvent the law by changing terminology. If neighborhood watches require registration, concerned citizens might simply disband the organization and instead patrol their neighborhoods without an official group title. That would be perfectly legal and police would not have any way of forcing citizens to sign up for neighborhood watch registries. After all, how can legislators expect to control legal activities that people do in their own homes and neighborhoods?

Do you think that Lee’s law would be effective? Would forcing neighborhood watches to register with the police stop incidents like the Trayvon Martin shooting?

Source: The Hill