Another publicity murder has taken place, and the usual digging in on both sides has started. I’ll start this with this. My heart goes out to the victims and their families. I also applaud those (few) news outlets who are not repeating the name of the murderer, but instead are honoring the victims memory.
With that, there has been some well intentioned talk again of “doing something”. “Let’s do what Australia did! Confiscation and registration!” being one thing that is said by various outlets. But, we have a different environment here. Does that mean that we should through up our hands in despair and continue to fling mud and blame? No. Here are some ideas.
There are some differences between the US and other countries like Australia when it comes to an approach to gun laws. First, if one were to try to pursue a method like was chosen there or in the UK, then there would need to be a constitutional amendment.
The supreme court has ruled on an individuals right to keep and bear arms a number of times, and although yes, there can be reasonable restrictions, there cannot be a de-facto ban.
So if we’re approaching the problem, understanding the limitations that is placed upon any laws that are created is important. That does not mean throwing up the hands and saying there is nothing that can be done. At the same time, realizing what needs to be solved for is key.
1) Events like the one that happened yesterday are horrific. Unfortunately, as was shown by the fact that the shooter had procured his guns legally, expanding background checks would not have made any difference at all in whether or not he had access to them. Its seems that often, we find that to be true.
So if that’s true, then why would we use an event like this to push for expanding BG checks or to close the “gun show” loophole? It’s disingenuous and when called out, makes the argument ring hollow at best. It’s also why gun owners push back when it’s brought up in this way.
So what can be done about this? There is some hope:
Let’s put some serious funding behind something like this. Maybe we can make a difference. It’s a far cry better than trying to pass something that will have little to no impact on the problem that we are ostensibly trying to solve for.
2) There are roughly 10k murders when a firearm is used, and 20k suicides where the method of suicide is a firearm. Our overall suicide rate is similar to other industrialized/OECD countries. The US was at 12.6/100k, barely higher than Sweden which came in at 12.0/100k and Australia at 11/100k.
The method differs, in the that hanging/suffocation is the typical method of choice, where the US has a tendency towards firearms. Largely eradicating firearms from circulation didn’t solve Australia’s suicide numbers. Their firearm suicide rate was dropping in the 10 years prior to their ban, it did continue to drop It won’t solve ours. Early intervention, available resources to help, and education of friends and family make the biggest difference.
3) So if we want to talk about the remaining 10k, this is where expanded/universal BG checks could potentially help a little. However, it’s really window dressing, as it doesn’t address the root cause of the issue, as it’s more complex. Proactive involvement to reduce gang violence has proven to reduce a cities murder rate. In a couple of cases, drastically.
These two ideas show that we could make a difference in the cities where the murder rates are the highest. Putting some actual funding into mental health programs, including some revisions to the ACA to help remove the roadblocks the insurers have put into their plans for people to access care. The ACA has helped (not as much as single payer would), but there is more that can be done to make it better.
Some other things around NICS that could help- mandatory reporting for all states/incentives for doing so. That said, reducing the poverty rate would have a direct correlation to reducing the murder rate. Let’s have a real job corp- 100% employment for those who are able to work, with a living wage. There’s certainly plenty of things in the country that need to get done.
So yes. There are things that can be done. Let’s do them and actually make a difference.
The Liberal Gun Club
California Chapter President
National Education Director
Member, Liberal Gun Owners of America