I thought I would address something less divisive, and controversial, today, so let's talk gun control! This is one of several topics in America that, as a country, we will never, ever, agree on. So, knowing up front that I am not going to change one single mind on this, I am going to plow ahead anyway because, who knows, maybe today is the day the US decides that killing random people for sport needs to stop.
Reuters and US News, today, published a list of major mass shootings in the US since 2009. There are 29 of them. They represent only a small fraction of the overall numbers. A mass shooting is defined as any shooting where at least 4 people are killed. In Chicago alone you can have four or five of them on a Saturday night. So the list is random and maybe we need to redefine this category.
What is impossible to not notice, is how quickly your mind can recall them, once you see the dateline cities, and read the opening lines. Fort Hood, Las Vegas, Charleston, Newton, Parkland, El Paso, and now, this week, we can add Atlanta, and Boulder. So many lives lost because someone decided they wanted to be famous, or because they decided the solution to their problem was to end the life of someone they never met.
My personal position on this is that I would be in favor of the government coming into everyone's house and taking away all guns and ammunition. However, I am also rational enough to know that is never going to happen so we need to find a plan "b" we can all agree on to attempt to reduce these situations.
Polls show that the vast majority of Americans believe we need to enact some laws to slow down the mass shootings. This is a great start. Unfortunately those same polls show that Congress feels just the opposite. Apparently, they only believe in doing what their constituents want when it pleases them. Having them work this out seems futile but that is how we operate here so we need to begin with them.
I am not going to call for "common sense" gun laws because that is rhetoric that has boiled the blood of both sides of this issue. Instead let's call these, "saving our families" gun laws. This does not only mean taking guns away, it also means getting people the help that need it, so that they don't feel there is no other solution than to kill.
1. Most of us agree that there is nothing wrong with doing a background check on someone looking to buy a gun. This includes both criminal, and mental, checks to make sure there is nothing to keep someone from buying a gun. This should also include the biggest loophole in checks, private gun shows. You should not be allowed to be turned down at your sporting goods store, and then go to a gun show at the Holiday Inn and buy a gun.
2. A three day waiting period to get your gun is not a hardship for any responsible gun owner. The only people who don't want to wait is someone who had a nefarious plan for getting their gun.
3. Eliminate open carry. Why does anyone need this stupid law? Does it make you feel more of a man to walk around with an AR15 strapped to your chest? Yesterday in Boulder, a crazy person walked into a grocery store, with a long gun, reportedly an AR15, in the open and shot and killed ten strangers. Because Colorado has an open carry law, people in the store, including the security guard, had no idea he was a potential killer because this is a common sight apparently. This seems to be a no brainer.
4. Limit the size, and speed, of cartridges. Anyone shooting at a target does not use, or need, to have rapid fire cartridges, nor do they need them to be filled with dozens of bullets. They are easy enough to reload so make it tougher for someone to shoot 50 people before having to do so. While we are at it we don't need armor piercing bullets either.
5. Do not sell automatic, or semi automatic, rifles to anyone. These are for law enforcement and the military, not Jimmy at the gun club.
6. Put in a system that allows law enforcement, across the country, at all levels, to share information on anyone looking to buy a gun or get a gun license. We have this in other areas of enforcement and it seems like this should be easy-peasy to accomplish.
7. Make gun possession at 21 years old or older. The sight of a teenager walking down the streets in Kenosha, last summer, with an assault rifle in the middle of a protest, was trouble just waiting to happen. Unfortunately, it did, and now so many lives are ruined and changed because of that one stupid moment. You have to be 21 to drink and you should have to be 21 to own a deadly weapon too.
8. Allow families to ask for help for another family member who is clearly in need of some mental health intervention. This would save so many lives and be so simple to accomplish. At the same time we need to make it easier for people to get help when they want it. Right now, unless you are Johnny Gotrocks rich, you can't afford to get any help. There needs to be a more affordable way to help people.
These are all simple things we can do and it does not involve taking any guns away from anyone. (Well, with the exception of automatic rifles I guess, but even the police want this to happen.) Most responsible gun owners have already said that they agree with most of these solutions. Now we need to work on our elected goofs in Washington to get them on board with saving families and lives.
I hold out zero hope that any of this will get done. If we, as a country, couldn't get behind reform after twenty plus kindergarteners, and first graders, were killed, then we have no hope of ever fixing this.
But we need to keep trying.