Recently, there has been rhetoric by both Republicans and Democrats who neither want to meet the other halfway to produce public policy such Fix NICS (National Instant Criminal Background Check System) in 2017 . What each party wants to do is target the problem of gun violence and how to prevent mass shootings. I first want to debunk two phrases that have been given national attention in gun debate: (1) “If we ban assault rifles the problem is solved”; and (2) “The government has no power to put restrictions on guns!”
First of all, a blanket ban on anything doesn’t prevent the action nor does it target the heart of the issue. For example, you aren’t supposed to drink, possess, or purchase alcohol until you have reached the age of 21, yet I know people who are younger than the legal age and still get drunk on weekends. Another example, Marijuana is still Federally banned under the Controlled Substance act, yet Colorado and other states, most recently California, have ignored the federal government and now allow both medical and recreational usage of marijuana and surprisingly that charge is always led by the Democrats. In reality, banning something does not make the problem magically disappear. Nor will an Australian or English gun buy back policy as Wang-Sheng Lee, Sandy Suardi, and the University of Melbourne determined in 2008, “Although gun buybacks appear to be a logical and sensible policy that helps to placate the public’s fears, the evidence so far suggests that in the Australian context, the high expenditure incurred to fund the 1996-gun buyback has not translated into any tangible reductions in terms of firearm deaths.” Just like Jeanine Baker and Samara McPhedran in the British Journal of Criminology determined in 2007, “The gun buy-back and restrictive legislation changes had no influence on firearm homicide in Australia.”
I hate to admit it, but the government can put some regulations on firearms. This is because no citizen nor government right is absolute, and therefore they can all be regulated or limited. More specifically the Constitutional Right to own a semi-automatic assault style rifle hasn’t yet been determined by the Supreme Court. The only court case that has protected a specific class of firearm is D.C. v. Heller which determined that handguns have the protection of the Second Amendment. Despite this ruling, Uncle Sam can still put some restrictions on buying them, but overall only pistols have been ruled to be protected and it will take separate court cases to protect shotguns and rifles.
My policy plan to decrease gun violence and mass shootings is three pillars: (1) Mental Health; (2) Preventive; and (3) Defense. For the purpose of my argument, illness is stopping the threat at medical facilities, having therapists asking things like “Do you own a firearm of any kind?” The patient’s response needs to be recorded and immediately transmitted to the ATF and FBI databases so that the authorities can keep track of the person’s behavior and intentions over time. Funding for this database would require either an increase in taxes, or more government borrowing. This is in response to the FBI and local law enforcement blunders with the Highlands Ranch shooter and the Parkland shooter. Both cases saw medical professionals seeing disturbing behavior and refusal to report it to the authorities. Highlands when he was at the University of Wyoming; or state and federal authorities not doing their duty and responding to multiple red flag warnings. This also happened at Parkland where the Broward Police department ignored multiple red flags such as, refusing to do an in depth investigation into Cruz despite having neighbors complain about his discharge of practice BB rounds in his backyard. If medical and law enforcement refuse to follow this protocol they should be fired, arrested, or charged in aiding in the account committed by the shooter.
By preventive I mean that the threat should be stopped from purchasing firearms at gun stores and trading shows. I agree with the proposed three-day extension to process background checks, but we need to make sure that people who are on the no-fly list are not allowed to purchase a firearm. Also, to add to illness, if a person has gone in for therapy or for a prescription for antipsychotic drugs they need their medical doctor or a family member to be a reference for the ATF to contact before their background check is processed. This is designed to provide the ATF more information on individual through a confidential phone call. It is my opinion that the ATF benefits from the input that’s provided by medical professionals and family members who in contact with the individual on a daily basis. Overall, these measures are designed to close loopholes for possible felons or mentally ill persons from completing a firearm purchase.
What I mean by defensive is stopping the threat when it presents itself before any permanent damage is done. Tyrus, who’s a frequent guest on The Greg Gutfeld Show said, “Once 9/11 happened, the towers came down, airports were changed forever and since then there hasn’t been a repeat of 9/11. Our kids are under attack, it’s time to change the school system forever.” I fully agree with his insight because the reason travelers feel safe at airports, bus depots, and train stations at major places is because security is high. Some security measures include; metal detectors at main entrances to “sniff” through the bags that are brought in, 6-9 armed local Police officers who will man these metal detectors, and possibly the need for federally vetted veterans to act as armed centuries to patrol the hallways. I also encourage school districts to allow teachers to volunteer and take Colorado’s FASTER training and to be armed with a concealed carry license. To make sure that the teachers are responsible with their license, while on school property their can’t be a round in the chamber. This is designed to mitigate the chances of accidental discharge during school hours. The duty of a teacher is to not only pass on knowledge but it’s their duty to protect the students when they come to school every day on behalf of the parents. Finally, the Federal government should invest in trial runs for doors that are bulletproof up to 5.56 NATO, “safe cubbies”that are safe rooms that can withstand .50 cal. rounds, and external camera systems. These camera systems provide life footage to the nearest police department and when someone pushes a panic button, all doors in the building will close and be electronically locked where the police will have the only keys to open them. This measure is specifically designed to isolate the threat in one area of the building providing police, students, and teachers the knowledge of where the threat is and to take necessary action to survive.
These three measures are designed to stop the threat at every stage of an attack and deploy the “defense in depth” tactic that is used by militaries and private security contractors all over the world. For my critics who say these won’t work, my only response is that none of these have been implemented on a wide scale to be statistically analyzed and I think it would be foolish of any policy maker not to invest in these policies and to see if they work because I am in the business of getting policy right the first time and to never have tragedies repeat.
There is a major flaw in the first two pillars of your solution the first being tearing apart HIPPA laws. People in need of help will be reluctant to seek it knowing that their diagnosis and treatment will be reported to government agencies and the no fly list contains many innocent people that the government defines as being “reasonably suspicious”. By the government’s own admission in its stock reply letter to people seeking redress because their lives have been upended by placement on a watch list, only “about 2% of … complainants actually have some connection to the Terrorist Watchlist.” According to that same standard official letter, “complaints most often arise … because the traveler’s name and personal information is [sic] similar to the name and personal information of another person.” Translation: The watch lists are littered with cases of mistaken identity.