We Don’t Have to Live this Way

The news is gut wrenching. I have been visiting my 94-year-old mother and suddenly we heard the awful bulletin of children being shot. This time Texas. This time also a teacher; this time also a grandmother.

Many commentators have underscored that the United States is alone among industrialized countries to prioritize access to guns over things like health care and public safety. As the Washington Post noted today, “since Sandy Hook, the nation has experienced more than 3,500 mass shootings, according to the Gun Violence Archive, a nonprofit organization that tracks gun violence and defines a mass shooting as an incident in which four or more people are killed or injured.”

But we don’t have to accept this. As Nicholas Kristof has written, if we took a public safety approach to guns, as we do, say, with cars, we have every opportunity to use common sense measures to reduce the lethal consequences of gun violence. Here’s a section of his essay:

“What would a public health approach look like for guns if it were modeled after cars? It would include:

Background checks

22 percent of guns are obtained without one

Protection orders

Keep men who are subject to domestic violence protection orders from having guns.

Ban under-21s

A ban on people under 21 purchasing firearms (this is already the case in many states).

Safe storage

These include trigger locks as well as guns and ammunition stored separately, especially when children are in the house.

Straw purchases

Tighter enforcement of laws on straw purchases of weapons, and some limits on how many guns can be purchased in a month.

Ammunition checks

Experimentation with a one-time background check for anybody buying ammunition.

End immunity

End immunity for firearm companies. That’s a subsidy to a particular industry.

Ban bump stocks

A ban on bump stocks of the kind used in Las Vegas to mimic automatic weapon fire.

Research ‘smart guns’

“Smart guns” fire only after a fingerprint or PIN is entered, or if used near a particular bracelet.”

When I look back on my blog over the years, I see how many times I have had to write about guns, killing, and our failure to enact sensible public safety regulations. Wesleyan historian Jennifer Tucker is just launching a Center for the Study of Guns and Society. Perhaps by understanding our history, we can develop sensible policies for reducing gun violence. What could be more urgent than protecting children from another school massacre?

2 thoughts on “We Don’t Have to Live this Way”

  1. I called Senator Murphy’s office to ask what we could do as constituents, since our Senators are already on board. I was told by his staff to join an anti-gun group. Here are some: CT Against Gun Violence, Giffords, Sandy Hook Promise, Moms Demand Action, and Mother United Against Violence. I’m sure there are others, but those are a good place to start. Feel free to pass this info. on.

  2. My thoughts are with you Michael and your reformist peers in getting enough leverage to force your government’s hand to see sense that a change has to occur for your society to be protected from living in a state of fear.

    Richard Pawley (Bristol, England)

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