The following is my proposed roadmap of actions which are reasonable and might bring together seemingly opposing viewpoints:
Universal background checks required nation wide for all persons seeking to purchase a gun. Seems reasonable so persons with history of violence and/or mental illness/emotionally disturbed persons do not get to buy a gun. If you commit felonies (which by definition are crimes of a serious nature) in my opinion you have given up your right to own a gun. Non-violent misdomener offenses should not preclude you from purchasing a gun. With regard to restricting gun ownership for persons with mental health issues, their medical records privacy should be protected by HHPA. However, if there is a criminal record (particularly with respect to violent or felony offences) this should be the factor that precludes them from obtaining a gun. Reasonable?
- Red flag laws and procedures that track and treat all persons who indicate intention to do bodily harm to themselves or others. This could apply to any sort of threat particularly if it includes intention or capability to use a firearm. The tracking could be generated by any source (i.e, verbal intention, altercations, social media, etc.) My focus on the “trace and treat” proposal was spawned by the focus on “tracing and treating” deployed during the pandemic. Since we have a pandemic of violence, why not deploy the same methodology. I further propose this idea of tracking and treating as a means of violence mitigation having been on a mall cop on the secne of many a fight. Instead of just breaking them up, issuing Promises To Appear in court, why not deploy an intensive series of treatment sessions with the combattants and their respective families to get to the source of violence.
- Maybe we could develop a computer analysis matrix where the following ingredients of speech/writing/communication could trigger (no pun intended) follow up to appropriately track and treat. The following “perfect storm” of intentions could be….hate speech…..specific plans/intentions…..purchases (stockpiling of weapons and ammo). Only if a clearly identified toxic mix is documented, would the red flag be raised necessitating tracking and treating. For example, just researching about guns/ammo would not generate concern but when taken in the aggregate this would necessitate follow up.
- Consider a recent suggestion which I think was offered by Elon Musk in which a special permit would be required for the purchase of any assault rifle. The special permit would require more intensive background checking and vetting. This might be preferable (and more realistically doable) that trying to implement a ban. I got to thinking, maybe we could even go further in this direction and create specially designated enterprises where people could try out and practice with all sorts of weaponry and tactics. I might sign up for this endeavor where I could experience the thrill of firing an assault weapon, tossing a grenade, firing a bazooka, tossing a molotov coctail, firing an RPG, and maybe even get to blow something up (all of the aforementined activities with training and supervision of course). I consider this endeavor akin to going to a race track and getting to drive a formula one racer in a safe environment. As with a race track where you do not get to drive the race car home with you, the weaponry would have to remain on-site but you would get to experience the thrill of using it on site while the rest of society remans safe. My thinking is that this scenario might address the demand that people have the right to access weaponry. Like I said, I would sign up for this experience and I’m sure I’m not alone.
- The military have the mantra that “we leave no one behind” , religions make frequent reference to “being each others brothers keeper” and signs in subways and public places always implore us to “see something, say something”. Got me to thinking, what if as a society we all took it upon ourselves to more closely monitor each other for signs of impending mass shooter and violent outbursts. Without becoming a “big brother” society, maybe we could become a more compassionate (and curious) society that’s more alert to the tell tale signs of trouble (i.e., isolation, hatred, depression, etc.). Take this a step farther and specifincaly create a “buddy system” so everybody pledges to make sure that at least one other person does not “fall off the radar screen” and decend into a hell for themselves and the rest of us.
- If we were to implement all of the above referenced ideas this could coincide with the reimagining of our police. Instead of the cops riding around being on the lookout for unknown threats and criminals, maybe their time would be better spent teaming up with therapists, outreach workers, social workersl youth counselors, probation officers, parole officers, peer mentors/violence mitigators. If done correctly, it might even make the role of being a cop more satisfying and meaningful.
- Of course, there is always the option of hardening the targets. This includes bullet resistant windows/doors, controled access systems, check points with screening, I.D. verifications, pat-downs, video surveillance and facial recognition. All of these measures have their value, espeially in public, high-target settings such as schools, public facilities, malls, etc. but target harding can only go so far. Remember how the castles and moats in the middle ages were effective for a while but ultimately were penetrated from both inside and outside their walls.
- As always, I’m always keen to hear feedback. In closing, if we continue on this course I fear that we will devolve into a very dark anarchistic place that will resemble the scene from The Kingsman movie where violent mayhem overtakes a church revival while the song “Free Bird” plays in the background. Check this video clip out if you get chance, let’s hope it’s not a window into the future.