Ways and means to prevent a future mass active shooter incident in the US
In the wake of the mass shooting in Newtown CT, USA there have been a number of comments, suggestions, and claims as to what could and/or should be done to prevent any such future mass shooting within the US. These positions that people and groups have staked out come from all over the US in terms of politics, economics, cultural/geographic location, etc. Fortunately, virtually all such people and groups (the Westboro Baptists being one such exception) agree that a repeat of what occurred within the Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14th is unacceptable and efforts must be made to prevent anything similar from happening again.
The intent of this thread is to look at the legal, historical, social, and practical realities which are or could become involved in preventing a repetition of the shooting in Newtown.
While input from anywhere is welcome, suggestions and solutions which would be workable within the US are desired. What are not desired at all are partisan comments and accusations of who is to blame for such incidents, or suggestions which are not supported in terms of why they would/would not work.
Perhaps ideas and suggestions discussed here could bear fruit in preventing or minimizing future incidents.
From an Australian perspective you could look at the gun control measures adopted after the Port Arthur shootings.
The issue is that the culture and legal frame work in the US is different so to suggest the same measures can simply be transplanted may not be practical.
I fully agree that assalt rifles (and 30 cal mini guns for crying out loud) do not need to be in the hands of the general public. The weapons are certainly not optimised for hunting game and really only have one use.
In simple terms stopping the sale of military weapons to the public would be a start, I suspect removal of existing weapons would be politically difficult but really should happen.
It would be considerably more difficult to cause this sort of carnage with a bolt action hunting rifle with a five round mag.
Arming teachers is an idiotic idea ans schools SHOULD be safe.
One of the most obvious and easiest to implement changes would be to improve the security of existing firearms so only the registered owner can readily access them and it becomes almost impossible for another person to steal unsupervised weapons. The other advantage would be a reduction in accidental shooting deaths of children playing with guns.
My thinking is even if a person is justified in carrying a concealed weapon, what about the other guns they have at home when they are out and about? Secure them appropriately and they are less likely to fall into the wrong hands, i.e. a child, a mentally unstable person or a criminal.
The presence of military style weapons is so omnipresent throughout American society that any solution involving the removal of guns from society is going to be a difficult long term commitment, but everyone has to start somewhere and the outcomes of the current situation are so horrific, that a huge effort has to be made, regardless of how "difficult" it may be perceived.
I'd recommend starting with the total ban on all semi-automatic centre-fire rifles and shotguns. All sales from now on will stop and a large scale Government buy-back scheme, rolling out over multiple years for current lawful obtained weapons would be enacted to eventually remove these weapons from society as far as possible.
Due to the cost, which is going to be huge, there's no getting around that, a rolling buy-back scheme state by state could be commenced by the USG, with possession of them, lawful up until the buy-back scheme hits town, with reasonable compensation afforded to those who've acquired them lawfully.
Semi-auto rimfire (with tubular or fixed magazines only ie: slow reload times, suitable for farmers, hunters etc) lever, bolt action and pump action centrefire rifles, pump action shotguns and pistols (with limited magazine capacities and calibres) would still lawfully would allowed, but with far stricter security, carriage and storage requirements.
Furthermore EVERY single user must, on a yearly basis and at their own expense, undergo a psychiatric evaluation in order to renew their firearm licence. The USG could regulate the cost of these, to ensure people aren't ripped off by dodgy psychiatrists, but the assessment must be performed yearly and be confirmed through the production of a letter or report from the psychiatrist, before any licence can be renewed or applied for.
All weapons must be registered in a national database maintained by ATF, with access made available to all other Federal, State and local law enforcement authorities.
All forms of "mail order" purchases of weapons, parts or ammunition must be banned, with all acquisition of same done in person at registered weapons dealers, with the production of a current, valid weapons licence required for the acquisition of ANY weapon, major component or ammunition for a weapon.
All weapons, major components and ammunition purchases must be done through registered weapons dealer. Any sale of weapons must also be facilitated through a weapons dealer. So if a person wants to sell a gun to a buddy, he must lodge it with a weapons dealer, the buyer must undertake the acquisition of a new weapon process and then collect the weapon from the dealer once the return notification of the purchase is received from the agency responsible for weapons registrations.
The weapons dealer will be entitled to charge a reasonable fee for storage of the weapon and facilitating the purchase, again a Government stipulated fee for this service, can prevent exploitation of this scheme.
Purchases of new weapons must have a cooling off period. After a decision is made to purchase a weapon, a notification must be forwarded to the agency responsible for licencing and registration alerting them to the acquisition of the weapon, including: serial number, make, model, calibre etc. This process can facilitate the cooling off period.
The process would thus be: decide on a particular weapon, obtain it's particulars from a gun dealer, notify the responsible agency in an approved format, await and receive notification of the receipt of application and authorisation to acquire the weapon, collect and pay for it from the dealer. Any such process should be limited in time not to be overly onerous on a legitimate purchaser, but it should include a reaonable delay to provide a distinct "cooling off period" say 2 weeks minimum between notification of intent to purchase a weapon and the approval to do so.
Now the responsible agency should not themselves have the power to refuse approval to a legitimate user who holds a current licence, but a process should be enabled where that agency, a law enforcement agency, the gun dealer or some other interested party should have the right to appeal to a court opposing the acquisition of said weapon.
The definition of "interested party" should be defined in law, but should include: family members, work or student colleagues, medical practitioners, school or education department employees, a clergy member who can establish direct knowledge or contact with the person, or a person who has lodged a formal criminal complaint against the firearm holder with a law enforcement agency, relating to the use or threatened use of violence against them by the licenced firearm holder, or a person who has obtained any sort of court order against the firearm holder preventing the use of violence or the threat of violence by that person, including domestic violence prevention order, apprehended violence protection orders or similar such restraining orders.
In any case, the firearm holder must be afforded the opportunity to defend himself against such appeal before a court, with the responsibility (and the cost) for arguing the case against approval of the acquisition weapon borne by those appealing the approval.
If all that could be implemented (a big ask I know) I think an awful lot of the current gun violence could be reduced and would give much greater weight to the statement from licenced firearm owners that they ARE responsible users.
Have been thinking of this for a while.
Could you not have a Firing Range that is attached to a police station.
All semi/automatic weapons are stored at the police station and police officers act as Range officers.
Police would get money when people go and pay to use the range.They could also see if people are well versed in safety of fire arms and also check the records of the fire arms users
For Hunting ,Bolt action,Lever action rifles could be taken home and stored in home safes.
We would save more kids by banning swimming pools, they claim more children annually than all school shootings combined. Is gun control really about saving life and limb or is it an irrational type of fear, similar to the fear of flying?
More than 100 people were murdered by others using firearms in the 2 week period immediately after the Newtown massacre and yesterday we saw another attempt that sadly saw 2 firefighters led into an ambush and murdered.
U.S. Shooting Deaths Since Sandy Hook Top 100
Thinking that guns aren't the problem is the irrational thing IMHO. They and the ridiculous ease of obtaining them ARE the problem AND the easiest thing to change, unless you think changing someones mindset through education is much easier and a more successful approach...
Or better yet, the NRA's "what we need is more guns" attitude. Yeah, THAT should help out of control access to guns by those intent upon using them for killing others...
So people that murder with guns wouldn't murder if they didn't have a gun? That seems pretty silly to believe. Canada banned guns some years back, hasn't had any effect at all on homicide there. Take a look at Scotland's stats, or South Africa or any country that has all but outright banned gun ownership. The effect is negligible enough to be argued which indicates to me that gun bans are as ineffective as any other sort of ban. And that's before we even get into the Bill of Rights.
Gun control is often seen as an attack on rational law abiding citizens who just happen to own guns, it is not and should never be. Gun control is rather about limiting access to military type assaut weapons by irrational and/or criminally inclined individuals and groups whose aim is to threaten, injure and kill innocent people.
But 'gun control' as being discussed in this thread is an American problem and it begs an American solution. The political culture in America is quite different from that of Europe, Australia or Singapore and we cannot simply 'wish' the differences away. We cannot just apply the context of another society/country onto the Americans; as the Americans have their own norms, values, and laws. Without due regard to the American context (laws at Federal and State level relating to gun ownership), we will not get much further -- and this current discussion has the potential to become a discussion about their values vs your values or their laws vs your laws.
I would love to see how US politicians of national standing articulate a strong position on gun control but I have not seen it as yet.
Overall Canadian homicides have declined slightly (but reasonably consistently) over the last 35 years, but Canadian shooting murders HAVE decreased significantly overall over the last 35 years. The biggest factors in this have been identified as stringent licencing and registration of weapons, as well as stringent limits on the types and capabilities of firearms lawfully allowed for ownership.
Homicides by method
As to homicide rates between Canada and your country here's what the stats show.
Here's the non-firearm rate for Canada and demographically similar parts of the USA in 2006 (the last time a nation-wide census collecting this data was performed in Canada):
Essentially the same with only a very slight advantage to the USA. Canada had a percentage rate of 1.33 and selected portions of the USA, not including African American and Latino peoples had a percentage of 1.32.
Now for the overall rate, with all defined variations of homicide (including firearms), demographically speaking for those same groups:
The difference starts to increase quite rapidly.
1.94 (Canada) and 2.87 (USA) respectively. Now statistically you might argue that's only an extra person or so per one hundred thousand people. Bad for that person I guess, but a tragedy when the national perspective is looked at...
Now let's look at the overall percentage rate per 100,000 people for both Countries, including all defined variations of homicide (with all ethnic groups included):
Whoa. How's that Canadian comparison starting to look?
Canada stays the same at 1.94 but the USA is up to 6.42...
Now personally I don't see the difference between including ethnic persons or not, surely a person killed is a tragedy no matter which ethnic group they belong to, but even if you consider primarily anglo-saxon and asian based groups, the homicide rate remains larger in the USA under as similar a comparison as can be made, but the vaster population differences make this difference enormous.
Political Calculations: U.S. vs Canada: Homicide Edition
Now I believe firmly that the only real difference in such a debate, is the ease with which persons can be killed, when a firearm is used to perform the act.
Homicides will happen in society regardless of what's lawful and what isn't. I must say I don't get the idea of throwing in red herrings such as, "oh yeah but what about how many people cars kill" or "swimming pools kill people too" and what raising such points does exactly to help address the problem of 9000+ gun related homicides per year occurring in your country?
Your country, that has 3 statistical anomalies out of Western Countries and one legal anomaly. Of the statistical anomalies, one being the highest number of firearms per 100,000 people, two the highest rate of homicides per 100,000 people and three, the highest proportion of gun related homicides per 100,000.
Of the legal anomaly, they specifically are weakest gun control laws out of that same group...
It just doesn't seem like "rocket science" to me...
Some things which are important to know/understand, so that the US context can be better understood or appreciated.
Roughly a third of the worlds' small arms are within the US/US ownership (~300 mil. small arms of various types). That works out to there being enough guns within the US for every man, woman and child to have their own.
Further, the numbers I have seen suggest that while US gunowner households are a "minority" population (i.e. less than 50% of US households have a firearm), it is a sizeable minority (~40% or so). Going further with that, ~20% of households with firearms own ~65% of all US firearms.
In strictly practical terms, making a significant decrease in the number of firearms owned within the US would be difficult, just due to the sheer numbers. As an example of what I mean, there are ~10 mil. firearms in neighbouring Canada. If the entire inventory of Canadian guns were to double, with the extra guns coming from the US, that would only cause a ~4% decrease in the total US gun inventory.
It also must be understood that the US has social, political, and legal traditions which support private ownership of firearms, along with the concept of ownership for self-defence and defence or property. Part of the US gun tradition also stems from the Colonial period of the citizen-soldier. At the time the US was founded, it was decided that the government would rely upon various state militias which could be called up as needed, instead of there being a standing national army. This was itself an extention of, and outgrowth from the War of Independence fought with Britain, as well as the English Civil War which was fought at a time many of the colonies were being first founded. At the time, Parliament needed to meet at least every two years, because it was prohibited for the Army to be funded for longer periods. When Parliament met in session, it would then vote for the continuation of funding to sustain the British Army. The US in the early days after becoming independent, under both the Articles of Confederacy as well as the Constitution of the United States, followed a similar provision, where Congress (being the Legislative body and having budgetary authority) met annually, and each year needed to budget for the regular Army, being unable to vote on a budget with a duration longer than a year.
However, the US (Legislative and Executive branches) took things further, in that the standing regular Army was just 700 troops scattered up and down the Atlantic coast in the thirteen founding colonies and their territories. The actual role of the Army regulars was not to serve as a unit formation, or even act as a cadre. The regulars were instead stationed at various Federal armouries and arsenals, and they were tasked with acting as guards to protect the warehoused guns, cannon, powder and shot in peacetime. In the event of hostilities, the regulars were then to oversee the distribution of the Federal arms to the local militia units, essentially acting as Ordnance and Stores personnel.
Fast forward two hundred years though, and it is now felt that part of the reason for the 2nd Amendment to the Constitution of the United States was to prevent the government from being able to disarm the populace, leaving the populace without the means to rise and overthrow the government, like was done to found the US.
In many respects, it is that later belief/tradition which causes problems in terms of gun control, as adherents tend to view the government with suspicion and as a (potential) threat. Believers tend to view attempts at gun control as the government attempting to limit their ability to resist government actions. They also want to make sure that they have weapons which would be most/best effective in fighting against the government, if thing came to that. This is part of the reason for the popularity for military style weapons, as such weapons are really designed for use against humans.
If, over the course of generations, there starts to be a marked notice in interest in firearms within the US, then perhaps there could be significant gun control movement. Otherwise though, I suspect it would be better to focus more attention to tweaking specific elements of gun control, as well as non gun control efforts.
One other thing which IMO is important to consider, is that while gun control efforts could lead to a reduction in gun deaths, they might also just induce people who wish to cause mass harm/terror to use a different mechanism, something other than a firearm.
It isn't rocket science, but there is a pervading culture through large areas of America that says that the "right to bear arms" means the right to possess and use assault style weapons. There is no need for members of the public to be able to fire that many powerful rounds that quickly, there just isn't.
Changing the American mindset around gun ownership is enormous, not impossible, just enormous.
The far most likely terrorist threat in modern society is the atypical active shooter scenario we've seen so often this year.
All the major terror attacks in US history, haven't caused as much death as the gun related homicide incidents that have occurred in the USA in 2012 alone...
As for the covert / open carriage argument, statistically speaking, America would be better off if everyone carried rifles... Handguns represent the weapon of choice in the overwhelming majority of all gun related homicides.
Count back 40 years and you can count in excess of 600,000 gun related homicides in the USA, yet the American soldier losses from the Vietnam war (58,000), seem far worse to most.
That is an unusual perspective to me...
Before this goes much farther can we agree on a couple of things?
That’s right. Someone knew this could happen, but couldn’t alert anyone without breaking the law.
See Ray Kelly Interview Rampage Shooters - Why We Can’t Stop Rampage Shooters - Esquire
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