Mass shooting answers - heal the divide

Words can’t touch the horrible nature of events in mass shootings that occur so often in schools.  When you see the victims’ faces, you realize we should put aside all of our differences and find common ground.

As of yet, we are not being led to do that.

What is clear is that no one knows exactly why these shootings are happening.  Our brains want to simplify it, but much of this is, so far, unexplainable and complicated.   It’s a national issue and, as a candidate for State Senate, one that likely  won’t fall under my purview.  But I feel the need to speak out because what I’m not hearing or reading is a call to unity.  That’s right, we need unity now more than ever and an all of the above approach to stopping this tragedy.  

Here are some ideas I think we can mostly agree to implement immediately.  

First, we should call for a commission made up of  our top psychologists, cultural anthropologists, and sociologists to study and figure out as quickly as possible why this is happening.

We need to know why Americans are being driven to do this and we need to question elements in our culture, our psychological make-up, and our sociological structure.  No one can say for sure if these shootings are about copycatting, getting attention, revenge, poor mental health, control issues, or just anger and desensitization to violence, but we need to figure it out quickly and come up with a plan to change it.  

Most of us agree that we should fully fund mental health counselors and facilities in schools, and we need a more inclusive environment for children on the fringe of society. In addition to schools, we also need more mental health resources as part of a universal health care plan.

Second, I think it’s clear that assault weapons and automatic or Title II weapons should be very hard if not impossible to obtain.  But a large amount of these guns are out there NOW on the streets, so any noticeable change from regulation would take time to show an impact in society.

Even if we agree on that restriction, and the others that most Americans agree on: increased waiting periods, increased background checks, mental health evaluations on all gun purchases, increased gun safety training requirements, a ban on bump stocks, and closing loopholes, we can also agree that there will still be individuals out there that want to kill a lot of people.  We will have to find out why this is happening in order to change it.

There are other ways of killing large amounts of people that we strictly regulate, such as buying explosives, poisons, hazardous materials, or military ordnances.  For instance, we track and regulate large purchases of fertilizer like those used in Oklahoma City to make a truck bomb.  Put in comparison to those items, heavily regulating weapons with a high firing capacity only makes sense.

Third, an item that would help children immediately would be metal detectors in schools.  As a friend pointed out, we have them in government offices and airports, but not all schools, and the only obstacle is money.  Is it 100% effective?  No.  Will it help as a deterrent?  Absolutely.  

What are the obstacles to solutions?

Every time a mass shooting happens both sides of the gun control issue lobby raise a lot of money.  It’s demoralizing to realize that lobbyist drive this division.  It’s the exploitation of fear that leads us to our status quo of NO CHANGES and NO SOLUTIONS.

The only way that we get to a solution is when we find common ground and stop blaming each other.  Let’s try a sample conversation to both sides in order to stimulate a dialogue.

To (some) people on the left: you should stop saying we should ban all guns, because, like it or not, it’s in the constitution and people have the Second Amendment right, as long as they are not infringing on the rights of others.    

To (some) people on the right: most of you are in favor of more safety regulation, but all of you must realize that the NRA gets paid to fight any regulation. Polarization is what keeps them in business, and they pump members with the fear that all guns might be banned. You should stop defending the NRA, because these lobbyists fight even common sense gun laws.

People on the left: Did you hear that?  You’re playing into the playbook of the NRA if you say things like, “ban all guns.” That gives them the power to fund raise.  Gunmakers then make and sell more guns, and the problem gets worse.  It also puts people on the defensive, and gets them ready to fight.  Be civil and try to think outside of your own experiences.

People on the right:  Try to be open to changes, because a lot of people aren’t good gun owners. An example of a big loophole is when gun owners die, the guns go to heirs, and when that happens there is no tracking of ownership, no training, and no regulation.  It’s one way that many guns end up in the wrong hands.

Everyone:  Work together to find common ground, communicate, and ask questions.

I hope this helps to illustrate that we as a culture have forgotten how to compromise. Currently we are being manipulated to fund lobbyists that increase the division. Be thoughtful, and ignore the soundbite dialogue from partisan media.  Talk respectfully with one another. If we can do that, and vote for legislators that don’t take money from lobbyists, we will see real change, and it will come much faster.


Dave Ring