There are many examples of mass shootings across the United States, many of which result in the deaths of victims. I won’t list them or single any of them out here. You can look that up for yourselves if you are so inclined. Following each one, there is an increased awareness of these senseless acts with a call to tighten up gun policies.
Our politicians seem to act concerned and unified and speak out staunchly for a moment, then they get quiet until it happens again. Then they act concerned again for a moment and get quiet again until it happens again. It goes that way over and over again. That’s the cycle. Violence, outrage, silence. Repeat.
Although many of these incidents occur at grade schools, there are victims in other settings too. We see this at many places, including places of worship, in workplace settings, shopping centers, and on college campuses.
While these mass shootings are tragic, all types of gun violence need to stop. On average, there are roughly 30,000 deaths lost every year due to gun violence. The discourse often focuses on ways to stop it.
It’s probably not likely that it will be stopped completely, but I have some ideas that might help reduce the number of guns that get into the hands of people who should not have them. These are my own personal recommendations, recommendations I believe would make a difference.
First, fix the private sale exemption, otherwise known as the gun show loophole. This is a provision in gun laws that allow gun sales without the requisite background check if it is a private-party sale to an unlicensed resident of the same state. This occurs a lot at gun shows. As long as the seller has a reasonable belief the purchaser is legally authorized to own or possess a firearm, namely, that the purchaser is not a felon or that the purchaser is not prohibited from possessing a firearm due to a court order. So, here’s the thing. If I am a gun seller, how in the friggin’ hell am I supposed to know this without the benefit of a background check? I’m certain that many people who shouldn’t have a gun obtain one via this method more often than we’d like to envision. Gun sellers want to make a profit, so I imagine they look at customers with blinders on, evaluating them in a vague and overbroad manner, a manner that’s just as vague and overbroad as the gun law is. This needs to be fixed. All gun purchasers need a background check.
Second, everyone who owns a firearm must be required by law to (a) attend and successfully complete a government-sanctioned gun safety awareness program, and (b) safely secure their firearm at all times either via a gun lock or a lock box. Quite often, guns are “borrowed” from a friend or family member who everyone knows keeps their firearm in a shoebox on the closet shelf or in the dresser drawer. Gun owners who do not comply with these two requirements should be held civilly and criminally liable if their firearm is used by someone to commit a crime.
Finally, police agencies need to have monthly “no questions asked” gun turn-in, buy back events. Many agencies do have them, but not on a monthly basis. Doing this monthly would be a big step in getting guns off the street. The first reported program of this nature occurred in Baltimore, Maryland in 1974. (Parry, Robert (December 8, 1974). “Guns of Baltimore: Why Did Bounty Stop?” The Blade. Toledo, Ohio: Toledo Blade Company. Associated Press). In that event, Baltimore purchased more than 13,000 firearms from citizens at $50 per gun. The current national average is around 925. Agencies need to budget for this. Many smaller police agencies most likely work with over-stretched budgets already. Moreover, agencies don’t realize the funding that is available from the Bureau of Justice Assistance (a component of the US Department of Justice), in the form of grants earmarked for criminal justice agencies. These funds could help stretch an agency’s operating budget exponentially.
There are probably many other things that could be done to help curtain gun violence. But now, not much at all is being done. So, we can expect to see many more mass shootings before it gets better. Sorry to be a Debbie Downer. But, you know how it is.