I’ve reached the point where I have to say something to advocate for a less violent future. It is way beyond time to try something, ANYTHING to end the senseless tragedies of mass casualties in our schools. What I desire for the future is an end to all the violence; but right now I’d happily settle for a world in which no student ever shows up at a school with a gun and the intent to kill as many others as possible. Restricting sales of assault rifles would limit damage. Adding armed guards and metal detectors may enable a faster response. Neither is remotely sufficient to prevent an armed student from showing up in the first place.
There is no more time for mere words; it is time to demand that we and our leaders try absolutely anything to prevent armed students from showing up in the first place. I have my thoughts about good and bad ideas, but the time for being picky was around 15 years ago. I now just want us, as Americans and humans, to try ANYTHING so that this does not have to be the new normal.
I hear it said all the time that it’s a people problem, not a gun problem. Fine. Here are 14 things that might make a difference by teaching people or holding them accountable. None would take away a single gun from anyone who can currently own one. I’m open to any other ideas anyone comes up with to ensure no student ever shows up to school with a gun and the intent to kill as many others as possible. I’m all in for #teamtryANYthing
- Demand mental health funding for:
- research into understanding the specific cause(s) of these particularly heinous crimes. If we don’t understand all the factors that lead to these acts, it will be that much harder to prevent another occurrence.
- providing easy access to mental health resources for every parent and child involved in public schools. Therapy, trauma counseling, and training in coping skills, for example, ought to be a staple offering for every parent and child BEFORE tragedy strikes.
- having trained counselors in every school who see every child at least once a year. Call it a check in or an evaluation or whatever you want – have someone on every campus who visits with every student and offers scientifically and therapeutically tested assistance to anyone who needs it.
- Develop school programs on family violence and healthy relationships –
- Bullying is not nearly as involved in the lives of school shooters as media coverage implies, but it would be perfectly reasonable to fund and develop far more effective ways of training students how to cope with and ultimately stop bullying.
- Domestic violence is incredibly common and affects at least 25% of the population. A priority should be placed on training students in how to recognize abusive relationships and what to do if they notice patterns of abuse in their families, friendships, or dating relationships.
- Lack of family togetherness gets blamed often for violent behavior. We could create the expectation or even specific programs for paid time off to be spent with families.
- Free family therapy or relationship counseling could also go a long way to strengthening bonds at home. This could be mandated in every insurance plan and/or offered by all school districts as part of the student’s learning resources.
- Create societal media expectations that restrict the potential for the notoriety that some criminals desire. We could start with never printing a shooter’s name or photo. We are complicit in future crimes every time we give in to the desire to know everything we can about the perpetrator, thus making crime seem more glamorous for the next shooter.
- Remove all real or perceived barriers to researching gun related crimes and specifically earmark federal and state funds to do such research. We cannot accept being overall more worried that research might be done that might get results that might imply causality that might lead officials to take action that might restrict access to guns than we are that children are dying.
- Fund massive research into developing targeted interventions that would prevent the developmental and social realities that lead to these events. If it’s “bad parenting,” name what kind of parenting classes/practices are needed. If it’s “violent video games,” name the kind of regulations or ratings that could make a difference. If it’s “online extremism,” figure out the kind of transparency or policies that could help regulate or at least publicly pressure platforms (Facebook, Youtube, 4chan, etc.) to stop playing a role in the violence. Whatever you think the problem is, fund the research to show what needs to be done to change it.
- Create nation wide laws to:
- hold gun owners accountable for the safekeeping of their guns. Some sort of minimum standard of safety – maybe a locked door or a safe – could be required for storage purposes. Those not in compliance could be held liable for what happens if the guns are stolen or used without permission.
- hold gun owners partially responsible for crimes using their weapons if they gave access or permission to the perpetrator. We may all have a right to own guns, but no one has an unrestricted right to lend it to someone else. A right to own guns should mean a responsibility to ensure they are not used to cause harm.
- Require better records for gun purchases:
- Create a federal background check system for gun purchases that can be easily accessed by any authorized seller. Ensure quick and easy ways to verify a buyer’s identity and any criminal history that may disqualify them from that purchase.
- Make a national purchase records database and require any transaction involving a firearm to be registered there. We could require a broker for all person to person gun sales or hold individual gun sellers accountable for ensuring they record sales of personal guns.
I don’t care if you like these ideas or have your own. Get out. Advocate. Push. Argue for whatever you want, but for the love of all that is holy don’t stop until we try something, ANYTHING as a country to stop the violence in our schools. Maybe it isn’t about the guns, but it damn sure is about something.