I was going to wait until next week to start writing about firearm violence. During the day, I’m a violence epidemiologist so have some perspectives to share. But this week has been a lot. People need time to grieve, to react, and to process, so I was going to allow space for that. But I’m starting to see dangerous rhetoric bubble to the surface:
Thank you so much for your positive perspective on gun violence, Katelyn. I was one of those people who just threw her hands in the air and said "there's no hope" with our divided political landscape. I forgot that there were other avenues to try. Have a happy holiday weekend. And rest - you need it.
I welcome your data-driven perspective. Hope has been in short supply; thank you for providing some.
Thank you for pointing out that many gun shop owners and gun owners/users are willing to offer solutions and care about reducing mass shootings and unnecessary gun deaths. Too often they (along with Republicans, Christians, people from certain states) are lumped together with those who commit these horrific tragedies. Such misunderstandings and polarization prevent us as a society from listening to each other and solving this together. Thank you for all that you do.
You left out banning military weapons. The availability of military weapons is so obviously the main cause of the unending mass shootings. The Supreme Court in Heller held that the right to bear arms is limited, that military weapons are dangerous, and that military weapons may be banned. Banning military weapons is an absolute necessity. And it works-look at Australia.
We can reduce Gun Violence by voting out the Republicans.
We also need to disempower any other politicians like Joe Manchin who also gets money from the Gun lobby and the Gun manufacturers. Its really that simple. Until we do that Congress will talk about "compromises" for years as they have been ever since the Brady Bill and before.
The Republicans will never change - and they represent the minority by some 40 million votes. We need to vote them out and simply establish a Democratic Supermajority. Or sooner, simply do away with the Filibuster. We also need to Pack the Court so that it will support gun control legislation.
Thank you for this message of hope. I, too, appreciate your data driven approach. I like the idea of treating gun safety as a public health issue (“gun safety” vs. “gun control”). Automobile safety is a good analogy, and we don’t expect 18-yr-olds (or anyone else) to hop in the driver seat without first getting driver’s training or a driver’s license. Perhaps at the very least we could raise the age from 18 to 21 for purchasing assault rifles. Florida enacted this change after Parkland; this is the law in California. Red Flag laws and waiting periods might have helped in this situation too. Covid has taught me that a layered approach to risk reduction is helpful (i.e. vaccines, masks, monitoring community spread). Seems logical that a layered approach would help with gun safety too.
A gentle plea:. Why not make, using off-the-shelf technology already available conjoined with GPS, "smart guns" that will not allow themselves to be discharged in schools, hospitals, malls, etc. etc. They would also be programmable with local ordinances, such that if it were unlawful to discharge a firearm in city limits, the smart gun would not allow itself to be so used unlawfully. It sounds complex, but we have the technology to create such a weapon now and it wouldn't violate the Second Amendment.
I agree that a public health approach will work over time, but that ignores the more immediately effective strategies that other countries have taken to implement gun regulations. It is a “both and” situation. Assault weapons need to be much harder to acquire.
Thank you for your optimistic thoughts. We need those.
As for solutions, to gun violence, one that is never discussed is requiring a license to purchase ammunition.
I'm sorry to say "we won't fix it" is the correct take, because the people who CAN fix things are telling us the filibuster is more important than fixing it. For some reason, we're not allowed to drop the filibuster, and we're also not allowed to upset Joe Manchin, because reasons.
Or as in the case of Senator Amy "I know how to get things done" Klobuchar, and Senator Eric Swalwell, among others: tweets imploring the law to change, even though they both have the power to actually do the thing they're asking for and are seemingly not using it.
I agree with all your points on HOW to fix it, but the will to fix it relies on people who seem to have no interest in changing things.
Thank you for giving me some hope this week - please get rest yourself this weekend ❤️
The Court is a highly political body and is always looking to windward on public sentiment. Now would be an optimal time to bring cases before it to trim back Heller. Otherwise, the Fabian tactics of 2nd amendment absolutists will be used again to ride out the storm of public outrage. Wish there was something equivalent to the old Inc. Fund and Thurgood Marshall to strategize and litigate this public illness.
While I appreciate your optimism, the fact that there is any framing of the COVID response as a “success” (particularly since the pandemic is ongoing, mutating, and continuing to kill so many, even 3x vaccinated folks) has utterly shot your credibility with me.
Also, I think you’re leaving out of the gun conversation that guns become a veritable religion for some. There are people constructing their whole identity around “guns and Jesus” in a way that was NEVER true about cigarettes or automobile fatalities. You’re comparing apples to oranges in not considering the cultish *identity* and fetishizing that has arisen around guns.
The environment has changed. We absolutely need to take a hard look at our nation’s obsession with guns. But it’ll never happen in this horrifically toxic, white supremacist reality.
In response to Karen and to amplify on the "smart gun" proposal: Using a nontamperable electronic triggerlock, this type of device, suitably programmed would simply not fire in places or times the law prohibited. Home defense use could easily be accommodated and using some type of biometric engineering the gun wouldn't function if children got a hold of it. Or thieves for that matter. So long as the gun knows where it is, what the laws are in that place, who is holding it, and lastly the current time (to function in hunting only during the legal hunting season), then it can't be used unlawfully. The 2nd amendment crowd can have no constitutional "militia" argument, as no Originalist is going to contend the framers intended unlawful use of arms, or mass murder of civilians. Everyone could have their "sacred" right to own guns, but they just couldn't misbehave with them.
Thank you for your continued work on this issue, and for sharing some realistic approaches and solutions to lowering the levels of gun violence. A public health approach, combined with other efforts that are ongoing, sounds like it could actually bring about change.
Again I would cite THE VIOLENCE PROJECT, a book, a website, and spreadsheet of almost all mass shooters by Jillian Peterson and James Densley who demonstrate that the vaste majority of perpetrators whose child history is known were abused as children.