I’m sick to death of observing another moment of silence when children have been murdered, particularly in a school setting. Since 2018 there have been 119 school shootings. The most recent …
I’m sick to death of observing another moment of silence when children have been murdered, particularly in a school setting. Since 2018 there have been 119 school shootings. The most recent carnage at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas marks the 27th school shooting in 2022. No other civilized country in the world has anywhere near the record of the United States, so one has to ask why America has this dubious distinction.
Meanwhile, in Washington, DC, Congress continues to dither. So compromised are Republicans to the gun lobby, which pours copious funds into their campaign coffers, the GOP has routinely obstructed the passage of laws that would make a dent in the sale of arms to folks who should not have them. It is far past time to stop burying our kids. Here’s how:
PASS AND ENFORCE RED FLAG LAWS
Let’s be honest. As a general predicate, expanded background checks, assault weapons bans, or limits on magazine capacity, even if the law right now, would do little to prevent any recent mass shootings. The accused Buffalo shooter got his guns and ammo legally.
The single most important deterrent, however, would be a carefully crafted law whereby a person who exhibits behavior illustrative of threats to himself or others, a member of the family, a school official, or a law enforcement officer, can go to court to secure an order that allows the police to seize his weapons and prohibit further purchases. Such a law would pass constitutional muster as long as it had important procedural safeguards, like putting the burden of proof on the proponent of the seizure, hearing requirements, and a default expiration date unless the order is renewed upon a subsequent hearing.
Of course, this law would be meaningless unless the community enforces it. The alleged shooter in Buffalo, along with virtually every school shooter, exhibited behavior before the conflagration that would have triggered such a red flag law.
HAVE TRIGGER LOCKS
Aside from the school massacre problem, every day 321 people on average are shot in the USA. In 2020, the most recent year for which complete data is available, 45,222 people died from gun-related injuries (Pew Research, Feb. 3, 2022). Many are accidental. There is a device available that would add only a modest cost to guns which only allows the owner’s fingerprint to discharge the weapon.
This technology would discourage the stealth of weapons because the would-be thief cannot use the gun and, most importantly, children couldn’t discharge the weapon accidentally. The public thinks nothing of insisting on fingerprints to access a smart phone, so how much more should there be a “smart gun” requirement.
USE A PUBLIC HEALTH APPROACH
Estimates indicate that about 1 out of every 4 guns are obtained without a background check. Their purchase, as well as multiple ammunition purchases, should be subject to examination. While there is a plethora of court documents that identify folks who are perpetrators of domestic violence, no cross-reference is done for a gun purchase. Ban the sale of guns to people under age 21.
Congressional Republicans still eschew these simple steps, arguing that teachers should be armed instead. At Uvalde, there were armed police officers that didn’t stop the assassin. Stop the crocodile tears and reduce gun violence.
Arlene Violet is an attorney and former Rhode Island Attorney General.