None of these discussions will completely prevent deranged people from shooting up a school or a theater or a church. But they are a good start. Because we have a problem in this country, and ignoring it is not an option. As Harold Pollack, a University of Chicago professor, wrote for The Washington Post: “Compared with other wealthy democracies, America has surprisingly similar rates of car theft, aggravated assault, and other forms of nonlethal violence. Our gun homicide rate is about three times the average among our peers.”
What should be done?
That is not OK. That is not acceptable. That should be appalling to anybody who likes to pretend that we are the most advanced nation in the world.
So let us start by allowing the Centers for Disease Control to study gun violence. Is that so difficult? The reason behind the prohibition was, basically, that some people are afraid of what they might learn. Ignorance is bliss, I guess — until a crazy person with a gun shows up at your work place.
Beyond that, here are a couple ideas worthy of discussion:
One was posited by Jeffrey Zalles of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, who suggested that purchasers of ammunition should be licensed, and that shells should be marked with a serial number that allows them to be traced. Would this prevent mass shootings? No. But over time it would slow the drip-drip-drip of daily street violence by allowing responsible gun owners to have ammo and making it more difficult for the bad guys to get some.
Another idea is to treat guns like we do automobiles. Require licenses and occasional license renewals and, most important, insurance — so that if somebody uses your gun for illegal purposes there is some accountability.
Would these solve the problem? Probably not, as I am sure plenty of readers will vociferously explain. But the first step is to admit that the United States has a problem, and that it is time for us to talk about it.