Your Take: Mass shootings in the U.S.
Earlier this week we asked the following questions of our Bridge Alliance, Coffee Party and Fulcrum communities regarding the ongoing prevalence of mass shooting events that have puzzled the country’s socio-political psyche, perpetually searching for solutions:
- How do we better unify behind solving the issue of gun violence, without inserting our own ideological biases?
- Is gun violence an inherently political issue? Are non-political solutions potentially more effective?
Since posing these questions earlier in the week, there have been multiple mass shootings. An almost unavoidable sense of tragedy is sweeping across much of the country, while Congress lacks momentum on legislative solutions. It has become apparent that, regardless of political affiliation, many have accepted the truth that a need for a fundamental adjustment in our country’s relationship with guns is necessary. Jointly, this adjustment is necessary in short order, as the U.S. marches toward a record for mass shooting events in a single year, according to The Guardian.
Your responses indicated the urgency this issue requires. In many ways, there is no such thing as a dumb idea, evidenced by the creative and thought provoking ideas you all shared. From suggestions for our legislative bodies to thoughts on increased visibility for mental health resources, the perspectives represented in this week’s piece are the epitome of productive dialogue. This conversation reveals the influential ability for each of us to make a palpable difference. Now the spotlight turns to our democracy’s biggest decision-makers and whether they can muster the collective will and strength to make progress in defeating a menacingly relentless opponent.
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Here is a sampling of your thoughts. Responses have been edited for length and clarity.
Perhaps the violence of mass murders is more a social or public health issue, than a purely political one. There needs to be more focus on prevention. Think about it this way: those committing mass murders have given up hope and live in fear of always losing with no way out except for destruction. Not purely mental illness, but depression and hopelessness, with an overriding fear that nothing will ever get better. Public health tries to deal with anger management as a subset of depression, suicide prevention and/or substance abuse; which may be the proper solution. But public health departments are not equipped to take this on in depth. After a number of years in school nursing and coordinating closely with public health departments, it is easy to see their efforts are often disjointed and lack the focus necessary. - Brenda Marinace
We should focus on various options, including limiting bullet magazines, deeper gun safety training to protect minors and the mentally ill, changes in gun manufacturer liability laws, etc. Both political and civic solutions are necessary. - Steve Yaffe
I believe that gun violence is principally a mental health issue, whether suicide, low-intensity homicide or mass shootings. In this sense, solutions should be essentially non-political, including "Red Flag Laws", more resources for patient referrals, and any other feasible means of screening for mental instability prior to firearm purchases. - David Hudelson
Violence is not an inherently political issue, but guns are. Those that argue for better identification and treatment for mental illness are trying to treat the causes of “violence” (although the mentally ill are statistically more likely to be the victims of violence rather than the perpetrators). It is not a bad approach, but it is insufficient. The guns have to be treated as a huge part of the problem, and that is a political issue that our politicians can’t continue to pawn off on other parts of society. - Kathy Rondon
Of course non-political solutions would be more effective, but there is extreme power and money behind making this a political issue. - Becky Foster
Guns are not the problem. The people that use them are the problem. Guns just make it worse. Restricting access to guns will help with that but the problem needs addressed at a social level. - John Ruble
I fundamentally believe that the majority of citizens in our nation can agree that guns that are manufactured specifically to kill or harm people, and not animals, should not be able to be purchased as easily as they currently are. I'm a hunter myself and I don't know anyone who hunts with an assault weapon. Laws differ from state to state but common sense would dictate to me that someone who isn't legally old enough to purchase alcohol shouldn't be able to legally purchase an assault weapon. I believe common sense is a great way to get beyond political biases. - Deke Copenhaver
Logically, we should look at how other nations succeeded in curbing gun violence and make a model from that. While I believe this is a humanitarian issue, almost anything can be turned into a political one. - Jennifer
Gun violence is an inherently political issue because the most effective way to address it is through legislative limits, as demonstrated by other world democracies. To reframe the dialogue in the US, we might start by having gun enthusiasts share personal stories of how current laws have brought tragedy to their lives, and why they therefore support essential limits (e.g. banning assault weapons, red flag laws, purchaser checks). - Morris Effron
People can reach mutual understanding, they can repair the trust, they can collaborate across their differences. The gridlock we see at the national level, however, can only be fought where we live, work, worship, and learn. Changing the discourse in those spaces is what will break the larger cycle of polarization. Open, healthy dialogue, in cornerstone spaces like schools and churches can make a whole community more resistant to polarizing forces. It's not easy. It means deliberately including people who are currently left out—because of their identities or values, because they hold moderate views, or because they're not certain how they feel. And not just including them, but creating opportunities again and again for each person to share what matters most to them and to be truly heard. Those opportunities let us build the relationships that will interrupt polarization and reveal new paths forward together. When communities can do that, the “us versus them” tactics will stop working, polarization will stop being rewarded at the ballot box and in the media cycle, and our democracy can start working again as it should. - Katie Hyten
In order to unify behind solutions, we have to make this about the people who are being killed, randomly in most cases. We have to make it particularly about the children being lost and traumatized, and the impact on the families. - Jim Wooley
We need to start by agreeing on the facts. We are in the midst of an inflationary spiral of gun violence. The number of shootings, both casual and planned/mass, is escalating. This leads to more people buying guns, which only leads to more shootings. This is becoming its own pandemic, in which innocent citizens are swept up on a daily basis. For an epidemic, we need to try everything until the fever breaks. Americans, by a wide margin across ideological lines, favor tightening gun laws (i.e. banning high-capacity magazines, increasing red-flag laws, etc.).These facts have been well-established by Pew Research, a non-political organization. - Ken Lawler
Most polls I have heard of indicate the vast majority of Americans want some kind of gun control. Our politicians are unable to work together to define what that means. I believe the Supreme Court should interpret and clarify what the 2nd Amendment means in today's America and that states should follow that interpretation and implement gun control accordingly. - Patrick Baldwin