In light of the recent events in Florida, I’ll throw my proverbial solution into the web-universe. To begin with, and in full disclosure, I am an Army Infantry Iraqi Veteran and a concealed carry permit holder. I own a decked out AR-15 with plenty of 30-round PMAGS and ammo as well as voted for Obama twice. My wife on the other hand was raised Mennonite and hates guns. So with that as the backdrop....
To tackle this problem we are having in this country requires an open mind. Complex problems cannot be fixed with simple solutions, and temporary repairs often times become permanent remedies. So for starters we all have to be willing to agree on what the actual problem is. Is it homicide in general, gun violence, school safety, etc? Developing answers to another persons unrelated question will definitely get us nowhere quickly. So the first step is determining which direction we want to row this boat.
I feel that taking guns away or enacting stricter laws might provide for short term wins but will ultimately lead to criminals finding alternative methods to conduct violent crimes. If the goal is to stop deaths from assault weapons, then yes, banning, confiscating, and destroying all assault weapons will solve that problem. But remember, when Ford decided they were tired of Pintos blowing up they recalled and discontinued the manufacturing of that model. This action didn’t singularly stop vehicle deaths, it just stopped deaths that were caused by that one specific type of car.
This leads me back to my original point, we have to know what problem or question we are trying to solve or even ask. So for simplicity I’ll break the problem into three categories: the person, the weapon, the location.
#1. Increase access and improve the education system. Our schools are overcrowded which means students are only learning at the pace of the slowest learner. We need to build more schools or incentivize and/or promote other methods of education, such as homeschooling. Poor education leads to increased probability of violence and violent neighborhoods contribute to poorly funded school systems. It’s the chicken-egg theory.
#2. Stop vilifying mental health issues. Those who fear that a condition would exclude them from a perceived constitutional right may be less likely to seek help. Obama did this when he enacted the legislation making it harder for people who suffer with mental health issues to purchase guns. This act was seen widely as discriminatory, even by the ACLU, but I’m taking it on good faith that he was trying to help. Trump didn’t help this by immediately attributing the Florida shooting to the persons mental health....among other things.
#1. Biometric safety locks on guns and safes. The technology is already out there but is limited to select weapons and is expensive. Although this wouldn’t have helped in this case but it might have in previous instances.
#2. Legislative improvements. Background checks should be more comprehensive and require personal and professional references. This process needs to extend to concealed carry permit holders as well.
#1. Install metal detectors. This solution combined with making campuses closed could easily make campuses more secure and controlled. There’s an article in the Scientific American magazine that makes an argument against filling schools with metal detectors, surveillance cameras, police officers and gun-wielding teachers because it tells students that schools are scary, dangerous and violent places. I would offer a counterpoint by saying, we’re not fooling anyone by thinking that we’re safe anywhere.
#2. Move police stations closer to schools. Criminals generally hate law enforcement, and despite some statistics that argue that the crime rates are higher near police stations, it’s difficult to argue that response times are greatly improved due to proximity.
I’m sure that for every aforementioned point, there are multitudes of counterpoints and arguments to be made, and to be honest those rebuttals would hold as much weight as the ones I’m offering. Obviously, there are plenty of ways to tackle this issue, and it will take everyone’s willingness to be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger if we are ever going to start a meaningful conversation about this issue. It’s been five days since this terrible tragedy, and I’m both optimistic and delighted that the conversation on this issue continues. It would seem that America has decided to recognize its callousness for these types of events and start down a pathway towards progress.