One Way Forward.
There have been many times since Columbine when we have seen or heard of similar events. Mass shootings had happened before Columbine that but this one seems to have kicked off something. Part of the way I know it stands out is everyone knows what I am referring to by simply saying Columbine.
We all sat glued to the radio or TV and watched the surreal events unfold. I am sure some fringe personalities were happy, but most of us, being compassionate people, many with children, were horrified and thankful those were not our kids climbing out windows.
Since then, I have no idea how many mass shootings there have been. Too many we would all agree. Just too many.
Another example of a one name event that need not be described to be understood, is Sandy Hook. I made a statement after that that I have stood by. If 20 six year olds being killed changes nothing, nothing ever will change.
No one healthy wants this. No one healthy accepts this. But nothing has changed. Nothing has changed. More die. More die. More innocent people living normal lives are killed. A new day dawns, and the odds of death from a mass shooting increases. Nothing has changed.
Sixty Six percent of all mass shootings in industrialized nations in the world, happen here in the US.
This is not acceptable. This is not how guns should be used or perceived. These people being killed could be our children, our wives, our mothers. The answer to gun violence cannot be more guns. It cannot be. It is not the guns. Guns do not kill. I have had three guns in my house for years now and not one has killed anyone on its own. Not one has loaded itself. Not one has aimed itself. It is not the gun.
To make sure were on the same page I am going to make a claim here that comes from the CDC and Politifact and the Congressional Research Service. I’ll link it at the bottom. We as Americans have killed with guns, more American men, women and children since 1968, than Americans have died in ALL of our wars combined. ALL. We Americans have killed 1,396,733 fellow Americans with our own guns and that is only since 1968.
We have waged war on ourselves and the American people are losing.
People make the choice to kill. People make the choice to buy or acquire a gun. People load the gun. People aim the gun. People pull the trigger. It’s not the gun. I understand that. It is not the gun.
More people in this nation do not have a gun than do. I cannot believe the answer to gun violence is more guns. Now, this is when many of you will say Switzerland has eliminated gun crimes through mandatory gun ownership. Yes, kinda. The two things are present with one another but as is often said, correlation is not causation. A nation that found it’s independence via warfare is … almost standard! So there not a culture of “independence via guns” as one friend put it. Switzerland is a relatively small nation that although has compensatory military service, has a small standing army. Something we don’t struggle with. Much of crime is psychological, not just being armed.
Also for perspective, Switzerland has 45.7 guns per 100 citizens. The US has 88.8 guns per 100 citizens. So the answer cannot be MORE guns. The United Nations office of Drugs and Crimes shows a direct relationship between nations with the highest percentage of gun ownership and gun homicide rates. It’s not the guns.
From 1983 to 2011 the average number of days between mass shootings, [4 or more victims in a single setting typically, not including the shooter and not in family settings where families are shot by its own members] was 200 days. Since 2011, it has been 64 days. More guns have been sold since 2011, many more, yet the rate of mass shootings is increasing, not decreasing. It’s not the guns.
Since it is not the gun and the minority gun owners do not want guns regulated we must regulate the person; or accept the mass deaths as the price others must pay for our freedom to any and every gun we like. I am confident that no matter what a person’s opinion is on guns, no one wants this pattern of increasing occurrences of mass death from mass shootings to continue. And this pattern is on the rise in the US, only in the United States. But if it not the gun, it has to be the person.
Ok, lets look at that. Can we regulate people? Yes, we regulate people all the time. Is it 100% effective? Never. We test people for pilot licenses, yet planes still crash. It’s not the plane. People still drink underage even though we regulate who can buy alcohol. It’s not the alcohol. We regulate who can practice medicine, but people still die. It is not the doctor. We regulate who can drive cars yet people die driving them.
We regulate in an attempt to do all we can as a conscientious society to try and minimize the frequency of undesirable outcomes. So we could regulate the people who purchase guns. We could determine who is not a likely safe person to own a weapon. It isn’t the gun.
There has been the concept of background checks for a long time. This is not helping. The NRA has spent tens of millions of dollars in attempts to limit them. So has the American people donating to the NRA. After the shooting at Sandy Hook, donations to the NRA by individuals “surged”. People die at the end of a gun and donations by Americans to the leading gun advocate in the US increases.
As many as 40% of gun sales per year are private in nature and are not subject to background checks. Many people have said they do not want to have their right to buy or sell guns privately, be monitored. Even machine guns. It’s not the gun.
But everyone would agree that since almost every person who has carried out mass shootings, would have been or were legal purchasers of guns. It is not the gun, it must be the person and the person must be more than just legal to purchase a gun. They must be competent to own one.
Every legal conscientious gun owner I would think, only wants guns in the hands of people who can use them competently and responsibly. I know MANY responsible gun owners. Many I trust.
It isn’t the gun. So we must determine who should not have access to guns. Like licensing pilots or doctors, this is not foolproof. But there are responsible measures that could be taken. In my conception it would look something like this:
Any gun purchase anywhere must have a background check done, PERIOD.
Legal to own a gun is only the first part.
Complete legal history must be disclosed AT EVERY PURCHASE.
The purchaser would need to sign a release for all medical and psychological records to be released.
These would be released to pre assigned and trained mental health professionals who can assess what medications and diagnosis this person has had.
From these an assessment can then be made concerning if this person is likely safe to own a gun.
Following this, all guns must have rifling on record before sale.
All guns would then be registered from original sale with rifling on record.
This would be done every time a gun is sold.
This would permit the purchaser to be screened for safety and legality to own a gun.
If the gun is used in a crime, based on ballistics the gun can be traced to the last purchaser.
Only people planning to use the gun in a crime would be concerned about any of this.
I know this is invasive. I know this is uncomfortable. I know this is a massive change. But I think even the most passionate and responsible gun owners are hurt at the reports of deaths from mass shootings. Remember 1,396,733 Americans killed by Americans either by accident or intent at the end of a gun in the US just since 1968. No healthy person wants this. But if it is not the guns, it must be the people.
I have reached a point where these events in the news make me cry. Openly cry. I admit it. Children. Kids, innocent people are dying by the hand of Americans. If it is not the gun, it is the people. So we must accept the death of thousands of us each year, or we must do our best make sure the guns do not get in the hands of the wrong people.
If you disagree, I will accept that, but I will never understand you.
As a reference, 6,030 Americans have died due to guns this year, 2016 by the time of this posting.
258 have been children under 11.
It’s not the gun, right?.