Editorial: How can we curb mass shootings? What can be done about gun violence?
The only way to bring gun violence in this nation under control is to establish a national red flag clearing house/call center that coordinates tips from the public (NO anonymity…your name is registered too to prevent stupid angry neighbor or ex-husband style "tips") that through a well considered checklist then evaluates the urgency, validity and need for a type of action.. Arrest, visit, or simple notation. These tips which are currently overwhelming local law enforcement would be then fed to them in a more well edited format. Those that come in now to local agencies would be routed to the state offiice of the national call center. There IS an FBI tips hotline in existence now. Do you know that number? Did you know it existed? For the record it is 1-800-225-5324.
You can see more about it here https://tips.fbi.gov
But it is a hodgepodge of national agencies you need to wade through to report a wide variety of crimes. And often, those agencies do not communicate.
The vast majority of shooters, "Leak" information ahead of their violent action. They let people know. The people who become aware of a genuine potential threat need a NATIONAL TIP PHONE NUMBER to call. If we truly want to end mass shootings we need to know who the potential shooters are and STOP them before they do it.
Controlling access to guns.. It won't do it. Many of them get guns from people in their family. Improving mental health counseling. It won't do it because those people won't be seeking it unless caught and forced first. Changing video games won’t do it. Studies show repeatedly that they have virtually no impact on real world violence. Gun buy back programs won’t do it since we have so many guns now they would only reduce it by a small percentage.
ONLY by stopping them through information exchange FIRST can we bring this national carnage under control. This issue has to be addressed with real leadership and an aggressive effort. No more thoughts and prayers or school walkouts, or candlelight vigils. Action is required.
Those with guns intent on doing harm must be intercepted before they do harm. We need to enact a national level Extreme Risk Protection Order. The enforcement of these orders would fall to the most senior law enforcement official in any given jurisdiction.
An Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO) is a civil tool approved by more than 70 percent of voters statewide Washington State in December 2016 that temporarily removes firearm access for people threating themselves or others.
An ERPO prevents individuals at high risk of harming themselves or others from accessing firearms by allowing family, household members, and police to obtain a court order when there is demonstrated evidence that the person poses a significant danger.
This is not to say that a better background check law is not needed. It is. This is not to say that severely restricting access to assault style weapons and their ammo is the right step. It is (though the last ban on them had little effect). Also worth noting is that assault style weapons result in far more catastrophic injuries since the bullets tumble and are far more lethal. So ammunition should be severely taxed.
Gun rights advocates are correct in saying it’s not the guns that kill people. But research consistently shows that more guns are not the answer. The number of people who stopped armed gunmen in mass shootings is a tiny percentage.
In a study reaching back to 1966 on mass shootings the Los Angeles Times noted the commonalities among mass shooters. The majority of them experienced childhood trauma. Most of them reached a crisis point in their lives. They tend to “leak” or let people know they are planning violent acts and most of them sought validation for their motives by seeing other shooters in the news.
The National Gun Violence Archive notes that as of August 6, 2019 we had seen more than 33,000 acts of gun violence. 253 of them were mass shootings. That’s in 216 days. This is a national tragedy that requires a national response.
A national gun violence prevention center such as this could employ roughly 4000 people. We currently have 95,000 people working in 911 call centers nationally each earning around $20 per hour (in some cases some of these could be assigned this specific area) They are understaffed today but might be added to with a higher wage. Assuming such a call center.. per state (calls automatically routed based on incoming call area codes) staffed with 80 people per state you’d have a national Gun Violence Prevention system with 4000 employees. Paying that many people an average of $25 an hour would cost 192 million dollars annually. Just to put this in perspective the National Forest Service has more than 34,000 employees with a budget of nearly $6 billion.
This kind of center would be promoted on television, online, on radio, and on billboards, busses and elsewhere getting it out there into the national consciousness as the best route for "See something, Say Something." Today, where do they call if they suspect someone might do something violent next week? 911? Their local sheriff? The school principal?
That promotional campaign might cost $25 million annually bringing the annual budet to around $220 million. That’s actually not much money. And for those who say pass no gun legislation whatsoever. this would still help since it addresses the shooters not the weapons. Such a call center would also help prevent any other acts of violence that gun advocates say would happen even if we took all guns away. As an important side note the CDC says that suicides account for 60 percent of the country’s gun deaths.
If we can prevent shooting deaths through suicide, acts of criminality, mass shootings and more isn’t it worth it?