Your Opinion: Exploring solutions to gun violence – III
Friday, January 18, 2013
Finally, in this extended presentation on gun violence in America, I must address possible solutions.
Briefly, I need to first express serious reservations about arming teachers. In this economic reality, governments have shed almost a half-million jobs and most of them were those of teachers, police and emergency services.
There is great irony in seriously emasculating two core services, education and law enforcement, and then asking the remaining educators to render the services assigned the short-staffed police.
Additionally, such an atmosphere only exacerbates the dangerous mythology of the gun as the ultimate arbiter. When our streets, neighborhoods, schools, malls and other businesses become a test case of who has the biggest gun or can fire the most bullets the quickest, we are morphing into another Somalia.
Mental health services and resources would definitely be a significant element in any policy prescription.
A database and reporting system integrated with the background-check system seem plausible starting point, though systemic parameters should define appropriate mental conditions and only those conditions. Mental illness is not always psychopathic. Such a program also bears costs.
States have reduced mental health investments by $4 billion since 2008 and Republicans in Congress cut $3.18 billion from mental health services and another $88 million from “Obamacare” targeted for prevention and public health services. Funding would be problematic.
A director at Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms would be helpful. This critical piece in the puzzle has not had a director for six years. Senate Republicans have refused to accept any nominee. Since a U.S. attorney is acting as part-time director, having someone actually heading the department would be constructive.
Critically, these last elements address guns and their marketing specifically. The gun-show loophole must be closed.
Individual sales must require full background checks. With 40 percent of all sales being private sales, hundreds of thousands of guns annually are completely off the radar of responsibility. Contrary to national misperception, there is no registration system for guns. The federal background check system that applies to any dealer with a federal firearms license mandates that all applications be destroyed after resolution.
Additionally, General McCrystal, former commander in Afghanistan, recently stated that the .223 Bushmaster used in Newtown is a weapon that has no place on our streets or in our schools. Maybe, like Republicans often say, we should listen to the generals.
Involved parents, economic opportunity and rejecting all violence as a society are keystones.