Shoes left by people running to save their lives during the Dayton shooting
I’ve been thinking over the weekend about the recent mass shootings, and I’ve come to the idea that we’re talking about these incidents all wrong. One mass shooting is one too many, but based on how you define a mass shooting, we’ve had an average of more than one a day in this country. I think we get so bogged down into our own biases on gun and gun ownership that we will never find a solution to avoid the needless deaths that we endure year after year.
I’ll start by saying that I’ve been shooting guns since I was in elementary school. Back then, our local US Junior Chamber chapter (known as Jaycees) used to sponsor gun safety courses where we were taught how to properly shoot and handle guns. From learning to shoot with a pellet gun, I then graduated to shooting .22 rifles and so on. I won’t say I love guns because it’s not really love. I enjoy target shooting, and at one time, I considered taking up competitive shooting as a hobby. I also contemplated applying for a Federal Firearms License (FFL) and opening up a gun shop and range years ago as well.
America has a problem with guns that, despite the obsession some have, we refuse to address head on. So, I will offer my solution to the problem as I see it. If you agree with this, I have no problem with you passing this on to other people. The ideas I am about to share are not 100% mine, and I will not claim that this is my solution only. The ideas I will express are things I’ve gleaned from listening to all sides of the gun debate, and I believe this is the course we can take to appease everyone without trampling on any protected right.
Let’s start with the causes of gun violence. First of all, I’m going to dismiss the video games crap for the dumbassery that it is. Video games are distributed world wide and played by kids and adults all around the world. If they were truly an issue, we’d see violence all around the world and not just the US. Mental illness is a contributing factor in spree shootings as well as domestic violence and suicide. Socio-economics would entail the gang/drug violence issue as well as violent crimes like robbery and such. Suicides also would fall under this issue. Ideological radicalization also plays a role, and we’ve seen this in instances like the El Paso Wal-Mart, the Pittsburgh Synagogue, and even the Congressional softball practice shootings. Suffice to say there are any number of causes that can go into what leads into a shooting.
So, knowing the causes, how do we address them?
Let’s move to a single payer system where every single citizen and resident has medical coverage. Period. The notion of people losing their current private insurance is crap because they can have the same exact coverage they have now with the premium simply going to a different payer instead of their current insurance provider. They could also end up paying less for the same coverage as Dr. Frank J. Lysy has pointed out that a single payer system could result in administrative cost savings over the current system we have. There could be additional savings with the providers not having to staff a full office of billing experts to deal with different insurance companies. Those savings could then be used to provide better care to patients.
The efficiencies in moving to single payer could also be used to expand mental health services in this country. We can expand treatment methodology to get away from over-dependence on pharmaceuticals and be better equipped to see issues before they arise. I will add that not all mental health issues are the same, and not all mental health patients are violent or prone to commit violent acts. Evaluating, diagnosing, and treating people will help us determine whether anyone poses a threat to themselves and/or others. This gives us an opportunity to help people before things turn bad.
This one is for the “but Chicago” crowd more than any other group. Yes, urban violence is a big contributor to the death totals from guns in America. As much as people love to point out the deaths, I don’t see those pointing to the issue offering solutions, so I’ll help you out.
Let’s reform the justice system to where justice is truly blind. There have been documented cases of the school-to-prison pipeline, and that tends to disproportionately affect minority (black) males more than any other group. When you saddle a kid with a criminal record, you drastically cut that kid’s chances of leading a normal, productive life as a US citizen. Urban criminals don’t get the benefit of the “he’s a good kid” defense and receive a slap on the wrist that suburban, rural, or wealthy kids get. We have to make sure the penalty reflects the nature of the crime, but we cannot continuously sandbag kids and expect them to be model citizens. When you can’t get a job, you still have to find ways to survive. I’m not condoning or even advocating criminal behavior, but I do understand why some of it occurs.
Along with the justice system, we need to rid ourselves of the for-profit prison model. It serves no purpose beyond making some rich to the detriment of others. It would also benefit us if we moved from a punishment based system to a rehabilitation based approach. I know that it may not be possible to rehab everyone, but if we can teach and encourage people to be better citizens, then why would we not do that? A lower crime rate lessens the need for people to walk around packing heat like they’re Terminators.
We all love the 1st Amendment right to free speech. However, that right is not unlimited nor does it protect people from the repercussions of exercising it. There’s a fine line between hate speech and incitement speech, IMHO. I may not direct you to act on an ideal, but I can pump you so full of ideological rhetoric that you feel it is your duty to act upon it. Therefore, there is no way to crack down on hate speech itself by the government without violating the 1st Amendment. Private companies such as YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter are not under the same obligations as the government when it comes to speech. They can control what is allowed on their platforms, and they can determine whether or not people have access to information that would radicalize them online. If users put pressure on their finances to better control extreme hate speech, I’d wager that we would see a reduction in online radicalization. As I’ve heard some places, deplatforming does work.
I offer a three pronged approach. Reforming our justice system, moving to a single payer system, and going back to the 2nd Amendment. Now, you’ve read the first two, and I know you’re scratching your head over the third one. I specifically left that one for last. That was to ensure the last thing you’d remember was all about the 2nd Amendment.
I propose we go back to the original intent of the 2nd Amendment with some tweaks. The 2nd Amendment reads: “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.” I believe that’s the answer to moving from a debate on gun control to gun responsibility.
When you say gun control, some people automatically knee jerk to gun confiscation. Gun responsibility puts the onus right back onto the gun owners. If you know about urban violence, most often the guns used are either illegally purchased or stolen. I wholeheartedly believe that, if you want to exercise your 2nd Amendment rights, then you are 100% responsible for any and everything that happens to the gun(s) you purchase even if they’re stolen from you.
So, let’s go with the notion that every gun owner has volunteered for their state militia. That’s pretty much in line with the 2nd Amendment because that well regulated militia is necessary for the security of a free state. How many times do we hear people claiming gun ownership is a safety valve against government tyranny? We simply need to make gun owners be about it instead of talking about it. A gun purchase or gun ownership automatically puts you in your state militia which would be different from the actual military or National Guard.
These militias would be required to have armories where every gun and ammunition would be stored. The armories could be attached or associated with ranges and even shoot houses where the owners could practice their marksmanship with teachers on hand to assist. When a person wants to go hunting or something, they simply check their gun(s) and ammo out of the armory signaling they are responsible for all actions involving what they sign out. Once they’re done, they can check them back in. This cuts down on the ability for people to steal guns and move them into the illegal gun market. At no point does this impede a person’s right to bear arms. It also provides a ready militia for the state if there’s ever a need to call them up for defense.
You could even throw enhanced background checks in the mix to ensure that only those who are legally able to obtain and own guns are the ones who are getting them. Last time I checked, expanded background checks was polling around 90% among Americans. Given that, I cannot understand how leadership in Congress is able to do nothing without repercussion. I guess some people don’t truly care about these things until they are personally impacted. By that time, it’s too late for those who have died.
If you like or dislike this, let me know. If you have any ideas, suggestions, or thoughts of your own, please share them. This is a problem affecting all Americans, and it will take the efforts of all Americans to get this solved. The sooner we solve it the better. There are lives that matter.