The news out of El Paso and Dayton this weekend is powerful ammunition indeed in the argument that something needs to be done to halt mass shootings in this Country. This is not a right versus left conversation, it isn’t something we can wait to deal with until after the 2020 elections, nor is it about your personal revulsion to some of the things the current President has given voice to. To stop at any of these places is to trivialize the crisis at hand and to put off action on the matter – until the parties can learn to compromise, until the 2020 elections or until someone convinces the President that words matter more than he seems to realize. We know none of those things will come soon enough to stop another senseless mass shooting.
Why can’t we deploy some of the tools we already have? Why aren’t established levers being put in place to respond to the emergency at hand and to take our Country back? In Missouri, the Governor of that State issued a State of Emergency and sent in the National Guard when protestors were burning down businesses after the Michael Brown shooting. In Louisiana, earlier this Summer, the Governor issued a State of Emergency and sent in the National Guard when the prospect of rising floodwaters putting lives at risk was a possibility. That’s right, the State of Emergency was declared before the storm even hit. Florida declared a State of Emergency because of a Hepatitis A outbreak.
What will it take for us to act to stem the tide of mass shootings in this Country? We can institute background checks on all gun sales immediately. Our President has the power to start a war. He also has the power to stop the one being waged on everyday communities in the form of mass shootings. And if he won’t act, the States can.
Why can’t we decide today to temporarily lower the threshold for hate speech? Why can’t we suspend certain protections regarding online privacy so we know more about the dark web and the sale of weapons and proliferation of hate manifestos there. Why can’t we temporarily enact regulations regarding gun ownership? What is wrong with requiring more education – in our schools, to get a license or through the media – so the public has a better understanding of who is using what in the ongoing crises of mass shootings plaguing our Country? Why shouldn’t the owner of a deadly weapon be required to carry liability insurance? Why can’t we secure our border to stem the flow of illegal weapons into this Country? Weapons that wind up on the black market? We can and we should.
The obvious place to start is by closing the private seller loophole. Why can’t there be an online or mail in registration process where a buyer is required to take a picture and provide a driver’s license and a credit card before entering a gun sale. Why can’t we use each state’s Department of Motor Vehicles or the Dept. of Homeland Security to handle that verification process? We can and we should.
You need a driver’s license or state ID to write a check, to look at an apartment and to vote. You can’t check into a reputable hotel these days unless you are paying with a credit card. You can’t drive a car unless it is registered and insured. But if you want to buy a gun or gun accessories capable of killing large numbers in a matter of seconds, cash is fine, a fake ID will probably work and gun sellers who pose as hobbyists can slip into that gun show to make a few extra bucks by selling you a weapon while claiming they aren’t conducting business.
We can certainly enact temporary measures and do more to protect lives. We need to stop looking for permission from special interest groups before taking the necessary steps to protect the public. We have the levers and tools we need. Why aren’t we using them?