I have been following the gun control debate after the Sandy Hook shootings with an interest toward how we’ll fail to accomplish much of anything lasting. Sure, there will be laws passed at all levels of government as well as the inevitable lawsuits. However, these will not solve the basic problems causing gun violence in the US.
NRA is right; gun aren’t the cause, they are the tools of violence. However, much of the rest of their rhetoric, such as if we ban guns only criminals will have them, is insipid and lends nothing to the debate.
Gun control advocates are also have some facts on their side. There is too many guns in the US today. Though they are short-sighted to think that stricter laws or outright bans will do anything in the near to mid-term.
The problems are societal. Some are a part of our DNA, which started hundreds of years ago as the Europeans kicked out the Native Americans. The solutions are difficult culturally but need not be expensive and insurmountable.
- Better mental healthcare, especially for young men. Face it, men are more likely to murder. It also takes an odd duck to go into a place and kill unarmed people. One change is to update state and local laws to make it easier for people to get loved ones help. Also we need religious, social,and charitable help lines for those who see help on their own.
- Increase work opportunities for ex-con and those with lower skills and education. This would not have helped the children Sandy Hook, but at some of the 30,000+ deaths from guns a year could be prevented if people people had something legal to do.
- Legalization of drugs, starting with marijuana. Gang deaths were around 29,400 in 2011. Legalization of drug would significantly lower gun violence by taking the profit out of the trade. Who would go to a dealer when you could pick up a pack of joints at Walmart? Mexico would thank us too.
- Less ghettoization. Most poor live in poor areas clustered together, especially in cities. Current zoning laws play a heavy roll in this. Richer areas set zoning laws that stifle affordable housing such as apartments and other high density living to protect their property values. This puts the poor area with fewer job prospects. It also makes it harder to interact with other classes to network, a key in finding better paying jobs.
- Social change to stigmatize gun hording and survivalist conduct. The changes in public attitudes did more to decrease the cigarette smoking rate than any $1 a pack tax rise or law banning public smoking. A concerted effort by family, friends, and society is needed to make it more difficult for the negative activity to take place in society.
As you can see, most of my ideas are local in nature. The Federal government can do little to make a difference. Even if they were to ban all gun sales, it would be decades before we’d see an effect as there is at least 310 million guns is the US today.