First Steps Toward Solving The Mass Shooting Trend
Since the tragic mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida, the topic of new gun laws is at the forefront of the public’s attention once again. Over the past two decades, crime has drastically decreased, but the number of mass shootings has drastically increased. What are some things we can do to reverse the mass shootings trend?
Ramesh Ponnuru, scholar of constitutional issues, writes that solutions are needed, but we have to think about ideas that are actually workable in our society. Efforts like another “assault weapons” ban are not likely to pass, not likely to have a significant effect on crime, and not likely to garner cultural acceptance. But there are other changes we can make to be proactive.
John Cornyn of Texas, the number-two Republican in the Senate, and Connecticut Democrat Chris Murphy, the chamber’s leading proponent of gun regulation, have a bill to address deficiencies in the background-check system.
More thorough background checks may catch things like certain mental health issues that often fly under the radar under the current system. President Donald Trump has signaled that he would support the "Fix NICS" bill currently being debated in Congress.
In addition to that, there is also a fairly new proposal known as “gun violence restraining order” that targets people who are known threats.
Several states have considered gun violence restraining orders that would enable the disarming of people who give evidence of posing a danger to others. Governments could also create duties to report such dangers, and impose liability on people who give others they know pose a danger access to guns (or bombs).
These ideas are consistent with the meaning and intent of the Second Amendment in Ponnuru’s assessment. They do not target inanimate objects nor arbitrarily deprive people of their right of self-defense, but they do give law enforcement better tools to address credible threats.
In addition to these proposals, one of the most immediate solutions to the problem is properly enforcing the law and confronting threats in the first place. Police visited the home of the 19 year old who attacked the school in Parkland dozens of times over seven years. The FBI had even received a tip about a month before the shooting that he might be planning such an attack.
Yet in spite of the fears and that almost everyone close to him had, and the knowledge by the police of his instability, proper action was not taken. If the law were properly enforced and threats duly addressed, the shooter would not have been able to legally purchase a firearm.
Additionally, President Trump has proposed having armed staff members at schools as a way of countering force with force. He doesn't want to have all teachers carrying a handgun necessarily, but those who are adept and well-trained.
"This would be obviously only for people who were very adept at handling a gun, and it would be, it's called concealed carry, where a teacher would have a concealed gun on them. They'd go for special training and they would be there and you would no longer have a gun-free zone," Trump said. "Gun-free zone to a maniac -- because they're all cowards -- a gun-free zone is 'let's go in and let's attack because bullets aren't coming back at us.' "
It may take some time to get workable solutions in place, and to enforce existing solutions that could work, but the smallest changes can have a substantial impact.