Tattoo Blog

Art that adorns the flesh…

Wrong Needle, Guys.

August 30th, 2009 by

This past week, things got a little controversial in the Canadian province of British Columbia when police decided that gang members could have their gang related tattoos removed for free if they so desired.  Naturally, the cost of such a procedure would come at the expense of tax-payers and for many Canadians, that just wasn’t a good thing.

Several months back, I posted a story about the US government setting aside an extra $200,000 for tattoo removal procedures in the state of California.  True, the California tattoo removal budget isn’t expressly intended for gang members trying to clean up their act, although 90% of the people who undertake the government subsidized procedure in California are in fact, gang members.  The British Columbia system however, is solely for gang members who want to change up their lifestyle.

Speaking as someone who happens to live in British Columbia, I can attest to this past winter having been a particularly violent one, with a veritable gang war going on in and around Vancouver for at least 2 months.  Many people were shot and killed during this time, in a city which is generally pretty safe and where gun related crime is rare, to say the least.  Anyway, the reason that I personally disagree with the police offering free tattoo removal for gang members is not because it’s a burden on the tax payers (there’s about a million other things that I’d rather stop tax payer money from going to than a few measly tattoo removals), it’s that this new plan isn’t very well thought out.

Tattoos believe it or not, and their elimination, are not going to end the gang related violence and problems in British Columbia.  Given that there is a particularly brutal heroin epidemic in Vancouver and that the gang wars revolve around the drug trade, I’d have to say that maybe it’s a better idea to strangle heroin’s arrival into the province of British Columbia at Vancouver’s numerous shipping ports, before people start looking to burning off a few tattoos as a solution to gang numbers.

Hey, I’m all for getting people out of gangs.  But let’s ask ourselves why people join gangs in the first place, particularly ones that make tons of money off illegal drug smuggling and sales.  There’s a lot of money to be made in Vancouver off heroin.  A lot.  So doesn’t it make sense to stop the flow of heroin (or at least attempt to stop the flow) as a measure for decreasing gang activity, rather than telling all the gang bangers that the cops will help them get rid of their tattoos?  The gangs wouldn’t exist if the drugs weren’t so readily available in the first place.

But it’s just easier to foist tattoos into the dirty limelight, isn’t it?

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