The shooting in Broward County yesterday is yet another tragedy. I mourn with the families affected in the worst way possible AND am outraged with, likely, the rest of the world about these unfortunate incidents.
How can we address the violence that is plaguing our schools and other places?
1) Close the “gun show loop hole” / “internet gun sale loop hole”. This is not really a gun show issue at all. Some states permit individuals to sell other individuals firearms without background checks. My proposed solution creates an individual access point to the NICS database – where the federal government maintains a list of prohibited people from purchasing a firearm. Included in this proposal is NOT a requirement but an incentive to encourage individuals to put the purchaser through a NICS background check, by waiving liability to the seller if they use the NICS check. Will this provision have a dramatic impact on gun violence – I do not think so. However, it is a good idea and does not represent a significant hurdle for gun sellers.
2) Enforce the existing laws. Buyers of all firearms bought at Federally Licensed Firearms Dealers (FFLs), must complete a form 4473 https://www.atf.gov/firearms/docs/4473-part-1-firearms-transaction-record-over-counter-atf-form-53009/download Lying on this form is a felony. Yet we investigate / prosecute less than 1% of those who lie on this form. This is the low hanging fruit. We have the names and addresses of these people.
3) Enhance NICS – This is the critical part. States and Federal Agencies are “required” to report applicable incidents to this database – but sadly, many do not. Put teeth in this law and withhold federal $$ for states or agencies who fail to report.
4) Enhance security at our schools. All schools should have a plan appropriate to their community. Should schools have armed staff – YES! These people should be highly trained and receive continuing training. The nature of the tools the staff are armed with need not be public – we just need to know that they have the tools necessary to defend the schools and our children. Tools can include airlock entries, tasers, less than lethal rounds and possibly firearms.
5) We need to look at our Media and how they sensationalize violence. Movies, TV, Interactive video games, all contribute to acceptance of violence in society.
6) Mental Health – this is the HUGE item that no one has yet to put forth a proposal that has gained any traction. It effects our society in so many ways, not just in these violent school shootings. I know schools that tolerate violent students that hurt other students and teachers. These kids are counseled and returned to class. I believe this is wrong, very wrong. If a student (at any age) is a danger to other students and / or staff, they should be removed from the school and expelled from the school district.
7) Do we need to add any further firearms restrictions – NO. There are plenty of laws on the books that are not being enforced. I have seen NO proposed laws that will add to the ability of Law Enforcement to address violent people.
8) Are some guns more violent than others? NO. Rifles, including the “evil” AR-15, are used in less than 2% of the gun deaths. All intentional firearm deaths are horrible. However, we are losing perspective. Handguns are used in the vast majority of murders. Frankly, more than 5x the people killed with rifles, are killed with blunt objects. We have a violence problem, NOT a gun problem. One estimate is that over 80% of ALL crime is committed by gangs.
9) To address the AR-15 specifically. This is NOT an assault weapon. It is cosmetically similar to the M-16, used by the military. The AR-15 is a SEMI-AUTOMATIC firearm. By definition each squeeze of the trigger delivers a single bullet. In a FULL AUTOMATIC firearm, if you hold the trigger, the gun will fire continuously until it runs out of ammunition.