“We need to have some sort of informational database where troubled folks are somehow flagged to prevent ownership.”
Some jurisdictions require background checks for gun purchases, and waiting periods. A national approach might work better as checks could be to a national database instead of relying on just one State’s records.
“We can ban assault weapons and high capacity clips and large orders of rounds but it’s already too late. Even if the ban were to take effect tomorrow there are so many weapons out there now it would be meaningless.”
I disagree. This attitude stops people from doing anything at all and that is a mistake. Start with laws controlling what guns could be sold today and tomorrow and then slowly implement progressively stringent restrictions on guns sold prior to the new laws taking effect. One additional thing that could be done immediately is the banning of sales of high capacity clips. 6-8 rounds max. Ammo manufacturers could design and sell such low volume clips and the fact that they would be relatively inefficient and expensive/round works to the advantage of those who would reduce firepower.
“1. Programmed indifference. We live in a video game world.”
This is absolutely a must to correct. Video games do not have to have as their OBJECTIVE the killing of people with bonus points for headshots. The fact that the people are not “us” does not justify the killing. We could start with banning the manufacture and/or sale of games that use killing of people to “win.” Later, mere possession would be illegal as we know well that such games would be smuggled into the country. Still, you have to start somewhere and people knowing that these games were illegal, particularly teenagers, would cast the games in a negative light whereas today, they are accepted as reasonable by all ages.
“2. Mental health. We have failed to protect our citizens from troubled individuals…”
I don’t think the problem is protecting us from the mentally ill. The problem is failure to TREAT the mentally ill. The second half of the 20th century saw massive closings of mental hospitals and state mental institutions. As is often the case, we went for the easy fix. Eliminate the symptom of a problem not the root. These closures were undertaken to address the abysmal situations in many mental health facilities but that was it! And where were the mentally ill to go? Who knew and fewer cared. The do-gooders relieved the poor, mentally ill persons of their abuse. They did NOT address in any way the causes of mental illness or provide meaningful alternatives to the “Bedlams” that then existed. In addition, while there were bad mental hospitals, there were also good ones and they went too. The baby with the bath water.
We need to institute a comprehensive, nationwide mental health program along with the facilities to house and treat those who truly cannot function in the real world. It is time to stop pretending that certain classes of mentally ill individuals are never really a danger to others by hiding behind the added phrase, “as long as they stay on their meds.” We all know that too often, they DON’T stay on their meds and then chaos and sometimes disaster ensues. Additionally, medical needs change over time and without proactive monitoring, people whose mental acuity is compromised will fail to receive the adjustments to drug protocols that they need.
“No Internet sales direct to a residence, no same day gun purchases at gun shows.” These are no-brainers but as yet, thanks to heavy lobbying by gun manufacturers and enthusiasts, these obvious and simple measures have not been implemented. The question to be answered here is, “Which is more important? Trying to protect citizens from those who would use guns to commit criminal acts or making the acquisition of guns and ammo easier for legitimate gun enthusiasts?”
“3. Assault weapons.”
I suggest doing away with addressing TYPE of gun and focus on mode of OPERATION instead. Any weapon that fires a missile of any kind and can do so more than 6-8 times without reloading should be classified as military grade. Ban military grade weapons in the civilian marketplace. Prohibit their acquisition by civilians AND as above, prohibit civilians from selling, purchasing or importing any device that can hold more than 6-8 rounds. Also, make simple possession of any magazine or clip capable of holding more than 8 rounds subject to HEAVY fines and much LONGER jail terms than now handed out. Mandatory fines of tens of thousands of dollars, not a few hundred and 5-10 years in jail instead of 6-12 months after the first offense. Where to put this raft of new prisoners? How about ending the War on Drugs, Marijuana Division. By releasing immediately every person convicted of possessing less than a year’s supply of marijuana and passing laws to regulate that substance in much the same way as alcohol is regulated, our prisons would magically depopulate substantially.
“The highest number of arrests were for drug abuse violations (estimated at 1,531,251 arrests)” of which 43.3% were for possession of marijuana (approx 663,032 arrests).
NORML estimates that across the country, approx 100,000 are currently incarcerated for possession of marijuana.