Now that the dust is slowly beginning to settle and the smoke slowly beginning to clear, Gun-sense Nation has to sit down and come up with a workable plan to drive the issue of gun violence prevention in the Age of Trump. Because at least for the next couple of years, until he really screws things up and/or everyone gets sick of his noise, the organizations and individuals committed to ending the senseless behavior that kills or injures 120,000 Americans ever year are going to have to figure out how and what to do with the lunatics in charge. So while I’m not suggesting that what follows should be adopted as an agenda by the gun violence prevention (GVP) community, I do hope that at least some of these ideas will at least be discussed as plans for the future of GVP begin to take shape.
- There must be a dedicated and serious effort to prevent Gun-nut Nation from achieving its most fervent goal, namely, a national concealed-carry law that will be valid in all 50 states. And I am opposed to national CCW not because it would necessarily increase gun violence, but because it would make walking around with a gun just as normal and mainstream as driving a car. Which would lead to even less restrictions on the ownership and use of guns.
- States and individual communities should be encouraged to more strictly regulate the most lethal guns. A town north of Chicago – Highland Park – banned the ownership of AR-style rifles by town residents following Sandy Hook and the ban was upheld. The Attorney General in Massachusetts banned purchases of black guns in the Bay State which unleased a spate of lawsuits that will probably end up in the trash. Let’s remember that the 2nd Amendment protects private ownership of guns but doesn’t say anything about purchasing a particular type of gun.
- Gun buyback programs work. The buyback program in Worcester, MA, has taken more than 2,500 guns off the streets of Worcester and surrounding towns at an average cost of $60 a gun. Let’s increase the buyback tariff to $150 a gun and see if 20 cities with high levels of gun-violence could pull 500 guns of the streets of each city every year. So it would cost $1.5 million to reduce the gun arsenal by 10,000 guns – that’s chump change for someone like Bill Gates or Warren Buffet or (God forbid) the Clinton Foundation to pony up for collecting a really big pile of guns.
- Start pestering school districts to mandate gun violence instruction in the primary grades. Guns don’t show up in high school; they first start appearing in the middle-school years. Massachusetts mandated an anti-violence curriculum several years ago but confined the instruction to lessons about bullying after several unfortunate student suicides took place. Shouldn’t they also have added a module on violence cause by guns?
- Don’t stop talking about gun violence – no public forum is out of bounds. Public discussions about gun violence used to be of the moment, provoked by this mass shooting or that. The GVP community has gone far beyond rallying around the issue only when something dreadful takes place. But keeping the dialog going and increasing its volume is not something that should only occur in response to specific events. It should go on all the time.
Note that I did not mention the ‘usual GVP suspects’ like universal background checks or tightening up taking guns away in at-risk situations like suicide or domestic disputes. I didn’t mention these issues because there is enough momentum behind them now to sustain such strategies even when the chances for success are less positive than they were before. I just wanted to throw a few more items on the table because we need to attack this issue from as many different perspectives as we can, and let’s not forget that the next election is now less than two years’ away.