In a Facebook post following the Newtown Connecticut school shootings, I made the statement that there must be a thousand things we as a society and as a nation could do to address gun violence and mass shootings. Appropriately, a friend replied “post ‘em if you got ‘em”.
So, I’ve decided to ignore the hyperbole of my original statement and begin posting every thought that comes to me on the subject. I also invite readers of this blog to add to the list. It is my hope and expectation that in the course of listing responses to mass shootings in particular and the gun culture that underlies the 21st Century American Zeitgeist we can find reasonable changes that can and will contribute to safer and more peaceful communities.
Here are some thoughts to get the dialog started:
1. Do nothing. Nothing needs to change. Our right to keep and bear arms is more important than the lives that are lost to gun violence each year. After all, guns don’t kill people, people kill people. If killers don’t have guns, they will find other ways to continue the killing.
2. Wait a thousand years and see if we evolve into a civilized society. That’s about how long it has taken European countries evolve into societies that have lower levels of gun ownership and significantly lower murder rates.
3. Trust the marketplace. When people decide they no longer need assault weapons, they will stop buying them. When people stop buying them, the manufacturers will stop making them and the importers will stop importing and selling them.
4. We could look at other nations where the death rate from gun violence is lower than ours and find out what they do differently. See what strategies and policies work in those countries then adapt those strategies and policies here.
5. We could stop waiting for “someone” to do something about gun violence and think about things we can each do as individuals. Here are some suggestions.
6. We could attend neighborhood association and homeowner association meetings where we live and discuss the issues that surround gun violence and mass shootings. Then, take our concerns to our city councils and county governments.
7. We could petition of our state legislatures to make changes to our state’s gun laws.
8. We could join with individuals such as Gabrielle Giffords and contribute to lobbying efforts that provide alternative perspectives to those proffered by the NRA.
9. We could form and support a think tank to develop model legislation and lobby for its enactment in our local and state governments.
10. We could demand access to the facts about gun violence by asking Congress to release the data that various agencies collect on gun violence and have those data studied by universities and agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control and National Institutes of Health.
11. We could gather facts for ourselves.
12. Attend a local gun show. Find out what weapons are for sale. Find out how easy it is to purchase a gun. Find out how easy it is to obtain a high-volume magazine. Find out how easy it is to obtain instructions on how to convert a semi-automatic weapon into a fully-automatic weapon. Journal or blog about your experience.
13. Purchase a handgun at the gun show. Go to a shooting range and learn how to use it. Journal or blog about your experience.
14. Obtain a concealed carry permit for your newly purchased handgun. Journal or blog about your experience.
15. Carry your newly acquired and licensed handgun for a month. Journal or blog about your experience.
16. Take your newly acquired and licensed handgun to a local law enforcement agency or gun buy-back program and turn it in. Journal or blog about your experience.
17. After a month without your licensed handgun, journal or blog about your experience.
18. Reflect on the above experiences then advocate for the gun laws you would like to see in effect in your community.
19. Get to know your state representative and your member of congress. Meet with them and discuss your newly informed ideas on gun control.
20. If this experience has been informative for you, invite/challenge others in your community to undertake this same course of action.
In future posts, I will continue this discussion and expand it to a broader discussion of the factors that contribute to a less violent society. In the meantime, please join the discussion. I welcome comments that challenge as well as support the ideas presented here.