More mass shootings

Between the mass shooting at a grocery in Buffalo, NY and a school shooting in Uvalde, TX…I just can’t anymore.

Columbine happened when I was in 4th grade. Even closer to home was the movie theater shooting in my hometown, but when I was 4 and a half some guy shot up a Chuck E Cheese in my own heckin neigborhood. I’ve always felt awkward about Chuck E Cheese since then but that’s another story.

I’m become so numb to these shootings, not because how many there have been, but because of the endless cycle of everyone feeling sad, sending thoughts and prayers, talking about what should be done, and not doing anything, then the next shooting happens. Two days ago, The Onion ran the story “‘No Way To Prevent This,’ Says Only Nation Where This Regularly Happens” for the 20th time since 2014.

This really has to stop. Our politicians have failed us. I’m tired and angry and numb and sad.

Sometimes it seems like we can’t do much other than have different politicians.

But maybe…there is also indirect action that might help. Maybe we could show a good example of just not lashing out in anger to people. I would think the less often that happened, the less temptation there is for violence in general, of any sort (including verbal violence).

If I call for a ban on guns, then communication shuts off. It just won’t happen. So instead perhaps we can figure other ways to make small steps, even if indirect ones. Maybe we can point out that Switzerland manages to have lower rates of crime, and notice what they do differently, despite their reputation of a gun-friendly country.

Or we could be unusually creative in our criticism. We could point out that some gun locks are stupidly ineffective, including one that LockPickingLawyer pointed out only had six possible lock combinations. I don’t know how that ever was a legal gun safe. I mean, gun safes need to be held to a higher standard than that. There are several other gun safes and locks he’s reviewed that are just awful in design.

In fact, I think my love of urban planning will indirectly help. The less we divide communities with things like freeways running through the middle of cities, especially through neighborhood, the less poverty will happen. That should in turn, create less temptation to acts of desperation, which would have less temptation to do something stupid with a gun.

There might be a lot of ways we can try to help.

While I do believe that we should have some forms of gun control (I think guns should be licensed, registered, and insured like cars, frankly), I think the problem is there are only really two things ever discussed with these tragedies:

1.) Strict gun control
2.) Bad-faith and vague suggestions like “mental health” and “arming teachers” that are offered just to act like something’s being done and yet nobody is actually doing them

Similar to how I think the American Right tends to ignore any possible ways to combat abortion that don’t involve electing Republicans, I don’t think the American Left is as big on solutions to gun violence that don’t involve electing Democrats. So the conversation is just about limiting access to guns, because that gets voters to the polls.

I think we miss a very big step in the whole process: How are young folks getting these guns in the first place? A vast majority of them are stolen and/or belong to their parent(s). This isn’t just school shootings, but also suicide and gang violence (which has a very high body count, far exceeding mass shootings). It doesn’t apply to legal adult shooters, but one of the best things we can do is make sure that if someone owns a gun, that gun does not end up in the wrong hands.

A simple one is lock up your guns. Unloaded. Stored separately from ammunition. If it’s your own house, you’ll be able to unlock it easily. But thieves or curious/malicious children would not be able to. A lot of parents do not do this (I say this as a pediatrician), and this leads to a lot of deaths. Also, the number one place guns are stolen from is vehicles. Do not bring your gun with you in a car unless you bring it on your person. If you can’t do that, don’t bring your gun in the first place. If you absolutely have to, you can get gun safes for cars.

I am okay with regulating these with laws. Responsible gun owners are not a threat to public health and safety, but as soon as a responsible gun owner’s gun is stolen, it is everyone’s problem. My propositions are thus:

1.) Owners of guns are partially liable for crimes committed with those guns, even if they did not commit them.
2.) It’s legal to have a gun with you, but it is not legal to leave it in a car. Possibly exceptions can be made for safes that cannot be removed from the car.
3.) Cheap gun locks to be given out for free to anyone who needs them. Exempt gun safes and similar from sales tax and possible offer a subsidy.

I know there are folks that are all for banning guns and such because of all these shootings and not to mention the armed robbery that happened near my house earlier today that set me off. But I ask you this… if we ban guns from the country, is it REALLY a good idea? Logically speaking, all it would be doing is making responsible owners completely defenseless and letting the criminals keep theirs so that way they can keep committing these crimes. Criminals don’t care about the law, they’ll get guns illegally from outside the country.

Then it comes down to facing said armed criminal trying to rob a convenience store, and BECAUSE of that new law, you have nothing to defend yourself with. So what are you supposed to do, give them a bouquet of flowers instead? Oh wait, you can’t, because you just got shot in the arm and are now bleeding out. Awesome law government, ya really helped to stop shootings.

Be that as it may though, I actually like Sleet’s idea of having guns licensed and such just because if someone actually tries committing a crime with one it’d be easier to trace it to the source. My mother and stepfather have a legal carrying permit, so if someone ever tries to attack them they’d be making a grave mistake on that front. Not to mention even when I was working in that parking lot every day at Lowes, I was deathly scared of getting shot because of how crime is around my area. I do feel like this is one of those situations though that is just never going to go away >_<

The United States is the only developed nation where this happens regularly. Pretty much all of its Western, democratic allies have comprehensive gun control and are not havens of criminality or authoritarian regimes taking advantage of their unarmed public.

I think the reason it would appear the left does not have solutions other than voting for Democrats is because there is no other viable option for changing gun laws; the GoP will not do it. They are working very hard right now to blame shootings on everything other than the accessibility of firearms in America.

The GoP also oppose spending on social services, which the majority of America’s Western allies fund programs that better help alleviate the stressors that might lead someone to doing something terrible, while also being societies that make accessing firearms harder.

America has a wealth of democratic allies who don’t experience this problem. It’s time to look at other countries and take their policies for your own. You aren’t reinventing the wheel here. Apply what works and get rid of people who are standing in the way of fixing this.

I think it’s worth noting that half of gun-related deaths in America are suicides. And in areas where gun restrictions have been implemented, gun-related deaths fall without other forms of suicide increasing. These are deaths that the prevalence of guns cause that their absence reduces.

But to respond to the quoted point, the Uvalde shooter legally purchased his guns before the massacre. So did the Buffalo shooter. Did you think they stole their guns? The 2017 Las Vegas shooter was a legal adult. And so was the Pulse Nightclub shooter. Gun locks won’t solve America’s mass shooter problem. They would have done nothing to prevent what has happened because the most recent shooters were the legal owners of the guns they used.

And so were the people who committed suicide. Gun locks and laws making them partially responsible for taking their own life would not have stopped them from using their own gun on themselves. Not having a gun would.

There are measures that don’t rely on wedge issues that strongly divide Republicans from Democrats but those don’t get the attention they deserve.

This is true to a point but our approach can’t look exactly like other countries. Even if we decided on the most extreme measure of “ban literally all guns,” that would look very different in America than it would in, say, Denmark. It’s not enough to just enact legislature, but also to execute it in a way that works in a country that already has so many guns per capita.

This feels similar to “even if we enact gun control criminals would still get them.” Why should we shy away from measures that would reduce harm just because they won’t reduce it to 0? This is a problem that will not be solved with a single convenient solution.

“My way or the highway” is part of how we get here, because other people dig their heels in and refuse “my way” and so we just get more dead kids rather than trying to find life-saving measures that actually stand a chance of being enacted.

Fair enough. What are the measures that both Democrats and Republicans support?

You shouldn’t. No measure would reduce gun deaths or violence to zero. But it’s important to be realistic about how much gun locks and holding the gun owner responsible for criminal use would accomplish. It won’t stop half of gun-related deaths, which are suicides, and it would not have stopped the most recent or the most deadly of the shootings. Gun locks would not have prevented the massacres prompting this discussion. They’re good ideas generally but not productive solutions to the problem America is facing, and they don’t address the circumstances of the Uvalde or Buffalo shooter, who both legally purchased weapons.

You asked how young folks are getting these guns in the first place and answered they were largely stolen from their parents, which is specifically inaccurate for the ones that just happened. They’re buying them.

There are measures that can be proposed that are not going to be instantly shot down by the GOP at the very least. Heck, even call their bluff. State-funded security guards at every school. Make them complain about how what they suggested suddenly costs too much. If Republicans want to brick wall, make Democrats be the ones actually proposing different solutions. That’s a much different dynamic than “Democrats propose the same solution that Democrats like and Republicans dislike and then it gets blocked and Republicans cheer.”

And the fact that this specific event happened with a gun owned by a legal adult is not really material. If a measure could significantly reduce these deaths, but wouldn’t have prevented these ones, why should it be taken any less seriously as a suggestion? What makes this tragedy any more important than the tragedies that it could have prevented? Like I said: Risk reduction, not risk removal.

What are the measures that both Democrats and Republicans support, Sleet? Have they been proposed by legislators? Do they exist, or are we just engaging in hypotheticals?

Greg Abbott blamed the Uvadle massacre on mental health and Texas is the last state in America for funding mental health programs. People point out that the GoP brings up other factors in bad faith already. Is the plan just to point out that they’re hypocrites? That’s done a ton already. It isn’t effective when their base just dismisses the information as biased. Holding the GoP to consistent standards doesn’t work. They aren’t engaging in good faith.

A lot of schools in America already have police present. Stonewall Douglas High School had a police officer at the school at the time of the shooting in 2018. He did not intervene. Robb Elementary School had a police officer assigned to the school. He did not intervene. The supermarket in Buffalo had an armed security guard. He was shot to death. Police and security are already present and not stopping these massacres. Great that there’s a bipartisan response, if there is bipartisan support for this. But is this really a viable solution if it isn’t working?

It’s not just the Uvalde attack. It was the Buffalo attack, the Las Vegas attack, the Pulse Nightclub attack, the Los Angeles Taiwainese church attack and countless others where a gun lock just wouldn’t do a thing. It’s actually important to point out that the presumption that these massacres are happening from kids stealing guns isn’t accurate. Gun locks are good idea and using them is conduct responsible gun owners should already do, but it isn’t the foundation from which shootings spring and it isn’t relevant to solving them.

I’d like to see what evidence convinced you that gun locks and laws holding gun owners partially responsible for crimes committed with their guns would significantly reduce deaths. What information do you have that led you to this conclusion?

This tone comes across as very hostile. I’m not arguing that there are measures that have already been tried that both parties support. I’m making a suggestion to work on politically pragmatic solutions. If one party is a brick wall, even if it’s 100% that party’s fault, it’s just wise to try to find measures that might actually get past it. If Party A wants to enact deeply-unpopular-with-Party B policies, they need to actually get a strong majority into Congress. That’s how the hyperpolarized two-party system works in this country, for better or worse. The level of unilaterality of policies that can be enacted are directly proportional to the size of the majority that party has. Right now the majority is not that big.

It’s not about the GOP base, it’s about the people who see their own party as ineffective, whose voters typically have a terrible turnout rate. Who would probably respond to their leaders actually accomplishing things.

An excerpt from here: Gun Violence: Facts and Statistics

  • The U.S. General Accounting Office estimated that 31% of accidental deaths caused by firearms might be prevented with the addition of two devices: a child-proof safety lock and a loading indicator.
  • Approximately one in three guns in homes with children is kept loaded and unlocked.
  • Most parents don’t think their child knows where their gun is stored, but when researchers ask children directly, 40% of these same children are able to correctly identify the location of the gun. Parents also often incorrectly believe their child has never handled their gun, when in reality, 36% of children say they have.
  • More than 80% of guns used by youth in suicide attempts were kept in the home of the victim, a relative, or a friend.
  • Gun owners in a household are more likely to report that their gun is stored unlocked and loaded, compared to the non-owners in those households. This suggests a need for better education of household members regarding safe storage in homes with children.

I’m sorry, I’m just asking for clarification. First you said there are measures that both parties support that don’t get attention. Then when asked what they were, that shifted to how the parties should still try to work together. I take it there are not, in fact, underreported bipartisan measures to address mass shootings.

Perfect. Thank you. It’s a good idea.