IMPULSE GUN LEGISLATION: Lawmakers Miss The Target
After reviewing the past 30 years of “mass killings” with firearms[i], I’ve found that each shooter had one or more of the following characteristics: chronic and persistent mental health disorders; dogmatic religious ideology; dysfunctional family and/or relationships; history of being devalued and bullied; history of social isolation and/or rejection; hatred, racism and classism; feelings of hopelessness and despair after a sudden loss of employment; extreme anger and aggression coupled with a heightened propensity to homicidal behavior; increased chemical dependency; acute preoccupation with committing an act of violence/terror as a means to make a public protest statement; …just to name several[ii].
There are many people who experience very difficult life stressors, such as some of the characteristics previously mentioned, but they don’t become homicidal. Why? How can we know who is predisposed to committing heinous acts of violence? Here’s the big pill to swallow… psychologist, forensic scientist and social pathologist say that, yes, in cases of mass killings there are commonalities, but there are also enough differences that make it impossible to accurately predict who will “snap.”
Anytime one of these awful crimes occurs, it cast a sobering cloud over anyone who values life. The incident is covered on every news outlet and we all mourn the lives lost and pray for justice for the loved ones who are saddled with despair, confusion and sadness. I agree that a firearm is among the criminal’s most efficient weapon of choice to perpetrate serious bodily injury or death during the commission of a felony. Yes, people are murdered by arson, drowning, strangulation, poison, knives, blunt objects and with bare hands and feet. However, I will never argue with the fact that the criminal use of firearms is a much more efficient method than the aforementioned tools of murder, and indisputably the center of most mass murders in the U.S.
So, why, directly following the Newtown, CT tragedy, does the Pew Research Center pole show that U.S. citizens have stronger support for the rights of lawful citizens to own firearms, than adding more gun control laws?
Why, after being shot point-blank in the head during an attempted assassination, does former Congresswoman Gabrielle Gifford’s still believe in the Constitutional right of all Americans to safe and responsible gun ownership?
Americans are increasingly becoming intolerant of the Band-Aid of “Impulse Gun Legislation.” The BATFE[iii] reported that the 10-year Clinton Assault Weapon Ban did not result in a reduction in gun crime.
When you consider the enormously complex emotional, psychological, environmental, familial and societal issues surrounding each mass shooting incident, it’s no surprise that lawmakers repeatedly gravitate towards the same “red herring,” anti-gun rhetoric.
I’ll be the first to admit that targeting the real issues are far, far more daunting and complex than sponsoring a Bill for more gun-control laws. Laws which impact individuals pursuing a legal path to gun ownership.
Here are a few issues that we need to insist that our state and federal elected officials target head-on:
Enforce the existing gun laws. There’s a debate about how many state and federal laws there are, but it’s clear that we’re talking about several thousand. Police officers, attorneys, victim survivors and social service advocates can all tell you that enforcement too often falls through the cracks within the court system.
Lying on the ATF4473[iv] FBI background check form is a felony and punishable by up to 10 years in prison. But the federal government reported not having the resources to prosecute the number of cases they identify. So, those who are dumb enough to deliberately falsified the 4473 are not prosecuted or convicted. Well, they are allowed to walk the street and devise other methods to illegally acquire a firearm.
Expand funding for programs that provide education, prevention and intervention for children around rejection, bullying, home environments of abuse and neglect. There needs to be change in environmental conditions that could have negative emotional impact on children at an early age. This is a difficult one, but our children are worth the task.
Ensure that the Commonwealth produces the following report in compliance with the law under H4373 An Act Relative To The Reduction Of Gun Violence August 2014 “March 1 of every even-numbered year. The report shall contain, but not be limited to, the following information: (1) statistics related to firearms crimes; (2) arrests and prosecutions of firearms-related offenses, to serve as an examination of the effectiveness of the commonwealth’s firearms-related regulations; (3) aggregate data on the source of firearms that have been confiscated and identified as being used in a crime…”[v] I expect a factual report to reveal a similar result as the ATF report on the 1994-2004 Clinton Gun Ban.
Stop Gun Buy-Back programs that give cash, in the form of gift cards, to anonymous individuals for handguns surrendered. None, or an embarrassingly insignificant number, of the guns have been connected to crime. That’s why there are no reports produced at the end of Gun Buy-Back initiatives. The “anonymous” provision attracts people from different states to cash in on this deal. It’s a well-known abuse of limited public resources. It’s a publicity stunt to pacify misguided individuals who want to see anything being done that is touted as fighting crime.
Who actually believes that increasing a lawful gun owner’s licensing fees; or decreasing the ammunition capacity of a magazine from 10 to 7; or prohibiting a licensed private citizen from transferring a firearm to another licensed citizen or any such laws will reduce the gun crimes we view on the news? It’s time to stop missing the target.
I would greatly appreciate your thoughts and opinions. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
[i] FBI defines mass killing as 3 people killed or more.
[iii] Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives
[iv] Federal form used in all states when processing a gun purchase from a Federal Firearm Licensed Dealer (FFL)
[v] MGL ch6A Sect. 18 ¾ (10)