In spite of the shocking mass killings headlined in the news, they actually represent an almost insignificant portion of the approximately 11,000 human beings killed by fire arms in America annual. Gang shootings, robberies, hold ups, and other crimes and accidents as will as law enforcement actions all too numerous to report or even care about are the primary sources of gun violence and deaths. The actual number of victims, many of whom survive but are injured for life, are far higher than the 11,000 that are killed each year in the US. This is more than are killed during all but our most major wars abroad annually. Guns are killing and maiming tens of thousands of Americans like you and I and our family members every year in this country alone and most are unaware of it or have stopped caring.
The victims of shootings are not only those that are shot but their grieving families, relatives and friends or if the victim survives the care and expense borne by family members to care for the victim often for life. I could be walking down a street and a random bullet shot during the commission of a crime could strike me dead or worst paralyzed for life at any time including inside my house. I find this totally unacceptable. It’s like living in a war zone but not knowing it.
I’m a realist and in this country where gun culture is so deeply ingrained I realize that attempting to ban guns will have to wait until another generation. A practical and workable solution needs to be found to stop most of these thousands of horrific shootings. I feel that statistics will show that much of the shootings are performed by criminals and ex-criminals and immature young adults largely in gangs. I feel that the mere possession of any kind of fire arm by a criminal or ex-criminal or by a person under the age of 21 should have severe criminal penalties associated with it and that if a crime is committed using a fire arm much stiffer punishment should be mandated than is mandated today. After all we have laws that prohibit young adults under the age of 21 from drinking due to their immaturity so the same should be true for all forms of fire arms which can be even more deadly than a drunk driver. Those who sell fire arms to such individuals should also be prosecuted and face very hard time. This should be the national standard. Individual states can have their own tougher standards. The only way to legally assure that guns are knowingly not sold to such individuals is to have a criminal and age verification check done when any fire arms are sold. The same rules should be applied to ammunition. There should be an attitude of no tolerance for guns in the hands of these individuals. We need to send a strong and clear message.
As for law enforcement more research should be done to develop alternative weapons to guns that are far less lethal and just as effective at disabling the criminal. This will make it safer for innocent bystanders as well. Laws must be designed to make the use of such weapons easier for law enforcement to legally use. I feel that with all our technological knowledge today why can’t we develop more effective weapons than the stun gun, such as fast acting dart guns, or making the stun gun more effective at long range such as having a barb that incorporates a small battery and electrical circuit to induce a shock which can be controlled remotely without wires by the discharging weapon. Electrical safeguards would be designed into this and other such weapons to reduce abuses and increase effectiveness. Some of these weapons could also be sold to the public in place of guns for self-protection. Deadly force should be used as a last resort by law enforcement. I am not advocating for now that law enforcement replace guns. I am only suggesting that in addition to guns they be armed with these far less lethal weapons to be used first when appropriate before resorting to more lethal force.
In order for this to work we must figure a way to reduce our prison populations. My solution is to decriminalize drugs or at least decriminalize marijuana. This trend is starting to take hold in some states but since the federal government still outlaws marijuana this creates legal and law enforcement conflicts in those states which have decriminalized it. If this could be made to work this could significantly reduce prison populations and many crimes related to the trafficking of marijuana leaving more room for gun related criminals.
This will do little to stop the many mass killings that have been headlined in the news but it will help to reduce the number of criminal and law enforcement gun related killings and injuries as well as accidental shootings that occur daily that don’t make the headlines. It remains troubling to me that the United States of America remains the only nation, civilized or otherwise, that gives its citizens a constitutional right to bear arms (see The Right to Bear Arms – Did Founding Fathers Intend it for All?).