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Forever Young

  |   By: Dave Folk     |   Opinion

By 30 you could have voted in four presidential elections. By 30 you could have served you country in the military for a dozen years. By 30 you could have raised a 14 year old child. By 30 you might not be able to get a beer in a Montgomery bar.

Not to be outdone by his genius compatriots in Birmingham, Montgomery City Councilman David Burkette wants to up the entrance age for establishments serving alcohol to 30 years old. He even thinks it is a good idea.

To be clear, Councilman Burkette isn’t someone who thinks 30 is a mystical number that fulfills some destiny that the voices in his head told him about. Although that may make more sense than the actual reason.

What is the best age to kill someone, anyhow?

Montgomery, Ala., has many problems, people shooting each other in bars and restaurants happens to be one of them. Councilman Burkette hopes that raising the age of entrance for bars to 30 will curtail those tragedies. Apparently when you turn 30 you lose all homicidal instincts — being 24, this means I have a full six years of rage-filled murdering left in me.

His thought process is that young people are more likely to kill each other. Thus, by preventing young people from hanging out together at places that serve alcohol, less young people will kill one another.

Statistically speaking, young people do commit homicide at a disproportionate rate. People under the age of 35 committed 76.6%of all murders from 1980 to 2008, despite only representing 52% of the population according to the U.S. Justice Department.

Herein lies the trouble with Councilman Burkette’s proposal: correlation and causation. Being under the age of 30 does not cause you murder to people. There may be a correlation between youth and the chances you will shoot someone, but youthful status does not in and of itself cause you to commit a violent act.

Men account for almost 90% of all homicides. So banning men from all bars would be a more effective measure, by extension of his logic.

Raising the bar for stupidity

Bad business for Montgomery’s bars is all that Councilman Burkette’s fantasy would deliver. It’s no secret that younger people are more likely to go to bars. They even drink more once there than their older counterparts. I guess once you pop out a kid you have to do time-consuming things like raise it, which cuts severely into the amount of time you can get annihilated drunk.

The proposal’s biggest effect would be a sharp decline in the patronage of bars. Which means less money for businesses, less jobs for the area, and possibly an increase in violence as money migrates to areas that don’t have idiotic ordinances.

Would this proposal cut the rate of violent acts at bars? Absolutely. Any time you remove a large portion of customers from an establishment the chances of violence, along with the chances of profits, should go down. Those same kids shooting each other at the bar today can now shoot each other where they are drinking tomorrow. In fact, they may even be more likely to do so now that they aren’t in a public setting.

Our politicians spend too much time addressing the symptoms of problems, and not enough time finding the solutions to the actual problem. Rather than drive businesses away with legislation that is unkind to business owners, our elected officials should be encouraging owners to keep nonviolent establishments.

Or, post a higher police presence outside bars where trouble has occurred in the past. Patrons will be far less likely to go get a gun when they have to make eye-contact with an officer of the law on the way out.

Perhaps even offer a tax credit or another incentive for bars to keep more bouncers on staff. Security roaming the crowd would be able to snuff out minor troubles before they become tragedies.

Really, just do anything other than raising the minimum age of entry. What do I know, I’m only 24. By 30 I just might be able to come up with a common sense solution.

Follow Dave on Twitter at @davefolk

Dave Folk is a yankee transplant living in Birmingham, Alabama.