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Gun Violence - A Modest Proposal

Tuesday, February 19, 2019By Richard Alexander

By the time you have finished reading this sentence, someone in the United States will have died from a gunshot wound. By the time this day is over, over 342 people will have been shot by firearms, and 96 of those people will die; 59 of those fatalities are from suicide by gun, 34 are cold-blooded murders. Only one of those daily gunshot wound deaths resulted from legal intervention.

Every day, political pundits, politicians, legislators, mothers at a PTA meeting—people like you and me—will continue to argue about guns in America; their place in society, their legality, their link to perceived constitutional freedom, the fundamental philosophy of self-defense and how it sits at odds with society’s safety.

Then tomorrow another mass shooting will occur, and dozens of innocent Americans will senselessly suffer wrongful deaths. The arguments about guns will continue, albeit briefly at a somewhat higher pitch, urgency, and desperation. If the mass shooting is viciously takes out children, the arguments might elevate to talk of possible legislation.

When the mass shooting at Newtown Elementary happened in 2012—in which the unthinkable occurred, and dozens of innocent children were slaughtered in the one place besides home that should be safe, the arguments reached a fever pitch. Warring politicians further entrenched themselves in their respective positions. The left called for greater restriction on purchasing guns, for background checks, for any sense of accountability in the wake of so much wanton evil. The right doubled down, and did what it always did when its firearms were threatened; it pointed to the constitution and shrugged its shoulders. Then what happened? Nothing.

Almost of the mass shooting in recent memory are committed by individuals who either had a history of psychiatric problems but were never arrested for a violent crime, or worse, had a noted history of violence or mental illness that was not reported by their doctor, employer, any organization overseeing their behavior or responsible family member. We should grant immunity for reporting violent or alarming behavior.

Forty-nine states offer a prescription drug database but only a handful require doctors and pharmacists to check it before writing new prescriptions. Prescriptions for dangerous drugs were reduced in state mandating care providers review this system before prescribing. California maintains such a database which should be cross-referenced to gun ownership records. Anyone needing to use a dangerous drug should not own or have access to any firearm.

Courts should be authorized to confiscate guns in a home where people suffering from mental illness potentially pose a hazard to themselves or others. This would authorize doctors, therapists, social workers and pharmacists, who under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act cannot disclose confidential information even when an imminent hazard exists.

All gun owners should undergo gun safety training, without grandfather exceptions, as part of a licensing program and all firearms should be licensed, just as we license drivers and cars. An owner licensing law would require drug clearance before issuance.

At a minimum we need to strengthen background check policies, clarify the definitions of what constitutes a prohibiting event in regards to firearm ownership, strengthen enforcement, implement across-the-board existing federal background-check requirement and extend them to every private firearm transaction.

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