OPINION: A Solution to Indiscriminate Violence

Jaden Clarke, Staff Writer

Neither Democrats or Republicans offer acceptable firearms policy. Gun violence is a massive problem in the United States. Being able to defend oneself is an inalienable right, one that’s enshrined in the Constitution. That being said, a lot of people need to consider how we can both preserve 2nd Amendment rights and address gun deaths. We need to save lives in a targeted, precise way.

Current liberal proposals, like an assault rifle ban, do too little to stop gun deaths. According to the FBI, handguns were used in 64% of gun homicides. Policy that only affects rifles would not stop these crimes. There is already a black market in firearms, and banning assault rifles would make it even larger. This issue needs to be tackled with multiple solutions. We need robust background checks when purchasing a firearm, rigorous lessons about firearms safety in schools, and specialized rapid response teams for indiscriminate violence. This is much more effective than policies that lead to gun and ammo shortages, which just make it so that only the rich can afford to become gun owners. Multiple strategies are necessary to tackle such a complex problem. These policies ensure that high risk individuals cannot get guns, careless accidents are reduced, and the worst incidents can be stopped.

Psychological and background checks can prevent individuals with a history of violence from acting on their worst impulses. There are a bunch of ways this could be implemented, from a written test, to an interview with a trained professional. There would be a trade off between short waiting times and cost effectiveness against safety afforded. Details aside, denying access to firearms for psychological reasons should be acceptable to both main parties. We already prevent people from owning firearms if they have a felony, and this policy would use a similar style of risk assessment. By preventing people with a violent past from securing weapons, we could prevent mass shootings, as anyone who would commit such an atrocity would fit a certain psychological profile. While mass casualty incidents are tragic, gun accidents are another much more common cause of gun violence.

If every student had a teacher tell them to always assume that a firearm is loaded, to never point it at something they don’t want to destroy, and to never put their finger on the trigger until ready to fire (among other things), then lives could be saved. The United States has a much higher rate of gun accidents than similar countries. Young people are disproportionately likely to be injured or die in such accidents. This makes schools a key place to teach students how to respect firearms. A gun safety curriculum could be included in health classes. This would ensure every American can properly use a firearm, even if they didn’t grow up in a household with guns.

Expecting SROs and beat cops to respond to mass casualty incidents is a lot to ask of them. Mass shootings have become so commonplace in the United States that a law enforcement agency dedicated to stopping them would be overwhelmed. Responding to such a dangerous and stressful situation requires intense training, both physically and mentally. Specialized squads of police officers can stop these incidents as they begin. Relying on armed bystanders is incredibly risky, as they could be a poor shot, and even experienced sport shooters likely aren’t prepared for such an intense shooting environment. This necessitates creating a law enforcement agency that can prepare for these specific contingencies.

In American politics, people like to act like you’re either a die-hard conservative or bleeding heart liberal. In reality, most people fall somewhere in between. This makes it necessary to look beyond the limited policies that have been set forth by the mainstream parties. We need to take the views of all Americans into consideration when we craft policy, and this logic informs the idea of trying to prevent mass shootings while preserving people’s right to bear arms. There are no single solutions to such a difficult balance but focusing on maintaining firearm rights while being aware of the dangers they bring is a good first step.