Sisters Talking On…Gun violence

Point for Discussion:

Another week, another mass shooting in the United States. This is beyond ridiculous, and needs to be stopped. Are guns the problem, or are people the problem?  Until we figure that out, how will we know how to solve it?

Our Points of View:

(Lynn)

Gun violence is out of control in the United States, but it may be no different than ideological killing in other nations. It scares a lot of people every day. Is there a way to stop it? There are several. Australia had a problem with mass shootings over 20 years ago. When they banned assault rifles, it essentially stopped. On the other hand, Switzerland has a very strong gun culture similar to the United States, yet there is very little gun violence. Perhaps those in power here should be looking at these examples and implementing something in the United States that would actually be effective. I don’t necessarily believe that gun control is the answer. As has been said many times, “guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” So the real question is why?

Why does someone dissatisfied with their own circumstances feel a need to end their life rather than find help? Why does someone dissatisfied with their circumstances wish to exact revenge on those they feel are responsible for their misery? As a nation, we need to figure out what makes us so unhappy that we feel the only way out of our misery is with violence, not just against ourselves, but against others.

It seems we’ve finally reached a tipping point in this country. The students feeling most at risk are leading the charge. They’ve waited long enough for those in power to do something and they are legitimately fed up with a whole lot of nothing being done. We hear excuse after excuse. The fact is, we hear a lot of talk immediately following these events and in a month or two, radio silence….until it happens again. Rest assured, it will happen again unless legitimate action is taken.

So what can we do? I have a couple of ideas, none of them free or easy. And probably controversial. We can’t get better without some pain so let’s suck it up and try something new.

  • Let’s start with a ban on automatic and semi-automatic weapons for civilian use. I know, we like our powerful tools. Let’s take a step back and think about want versus need. We may want them to protect ourselves against others that have them, but if no one legally has one, perhaps our need is reduced.
  • Let’s update the national systems used for background checks. From what I’ve read this week, States have systems, but the data is not always uploaded to the Federal system on a timely basis, if ever. I am suggesting that maybe we ban all sales of these weapons until we have systems and rules in place to make background checks more thorough and accurate than they are today, within each State and nationally.
  • Let’s take a look at the mental health support system in this country. Funding has been scaled back way too far. I know people who have needed help, and those that provide help. Those that need support find it difficult to get the help they need. Those that provide the assistance believe they can’t serve as many people as they could because funding just isn’t available. Finding a good psychiatrist and/or therapist is challenging and the time one has to wait for an appointment is far too long for someone in crisis.
  • Build manned perimeters around schools with metal detectors at fence lines that could prevent the guns even making it on to school property. This is extreme, may make schools feel more like prisons, but our children could be safer.

I am not in favor of arming teachers as a preventive. One of my neighbors, a teacher and gun owner, believes that this will help. I am skeptical because it requires the teacher with the gun to be in the right place at the right time. Instead of teachers, perhaps security personnel on site. Not hourly security guards but retired military or public service personnel.

We could also look at how these events are covered by the media. Since last week’s event, I have heard of three arrests resulting from threats of future school shootings, all near my home. Are we glorifying these shooters? Are future shooters looking for fame? Is it their way of telling the world that they are more powerful or important than their peers believe?

There is a solution to this. We need to commit to solving this. Our lawmakers need to stand up and do the right thing. No special interests with a lot of money working to persuade them. Let’s get back to humanity and compassion. How would we feel if this happened to someone in our family?

Until we fix it, and I hope it’s soon, if you see or hear something, SAY SOMETHING until someone listens!

(Laurie)

I agree with Lynn that gun violence is a people issue, but I disagree with her that it is only a people issue.  I believe it is also a gun control issue, at least until shooters can control themselves.  People are tired of and saddened by gun violence, and want to feel safe.  Some controls are needed.  It’s as basic and as complex as that.

It isn’t just about having a gun for sport, such as hunting in the fall, for those who like that sort of thing.   It has alarmingly and increasingly become about hunting for revenge, or creating fear, or wielding power….or not mentally even knowing why.  Regardless of the motivation, guns – and the people who use them – are raising all kinds of questions, including what to do about it.

There are already a number of rules on the books – background checks (but are we checking for enough?), certain types of guns that can’t be sold to some (but does anyone outside of war really need an AR or a magazine with multiple rounds?), age of the buyer (do 18 and 19 year olds really need a gun, and if so, what type?), and probably other unenforced rules.  Couldn’t we enforce the rules that we have?  Not a big stretch here.

Maybe we can also consider a few additions:

  • Could there be a delay in the buyer receiving the gun to allow for more appropriate background checking, and apply some sense of scrutiny? (Why is it that someone can walk in to buy a gun and take it with them the same visit?)
  • Can background checks be done for all gun buyers, regardless of where they buy?
  • Can we limit a person to 1-2 guns (who really needs 10 guns; and isn’t that a red flag)?
  • Can we give gun sellers more authority to deny a sale, if something (or someone) looks “off”?
  • Can we invest more in law enforcement to protect schools and surrounding towns? (I believe that people will trade off wasteful spending elsewhere in order to protect us through law enforcement, whether via an expanded police force or a new entity. Teachers should never be required or authorized to carry guns – they shouldn’t have to know how to use them, nor should guns be in schools where they can accidentally go off, intentionally go off, or be taken from them and be used to harm others).
  • Can’t we require a “hear it, report it, act on it” culture where if someone is aware of a risk, they must report it, and importantly, those who are told about it, are required to log it and act on it? (As we’ve learned this week with the FL school shooting, all reports of potential risk should be respected and assumed serious until proven otherwise).

People should be able to feel safe, and have a gun, if they need it.  Law enforcement should be supported and in charge of enforcing existing rules, and adding a few  common sense rules could make everyone happy-er.    No one said it was going to be easy.

Our Question to You:

Guns are a constitutional right in this country.  At the time the Bill of Rights was written, guns were necessary to protect and feed our families.  Do you believe this is still the case?   Why or why not?  Or is this a people issue? Are we driving each other to the breaking point?

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