So here we go again! Another deranged person shoots up a school and 17 lives are lost in a matter of minutes. The Facebook profile pics change, both sides of the political aisles throw up their gauntlets, there is debate, grandstanding, outrage, political ads, people scream at Congress and try to place blame on something and you know what? It’s natural.
Frustration and emotions run high when human beings want to help but feel powerless.
I don’t claim to have all the answers because this is a complicated issue. I do believe, however, that people want something done and we should do something but are we really at a point now to look at the problem without emotion and political bias? Are we all really ready to put our hands, feet, and wallets in a place to do something or do we just get over it again and wait for the next tragedy.
Some of the suggestions I have would be political suicide if I were a politician. Some of the suggestions might sound extreme or a little crazy but then again we are in a battle with evil and crazy.
So before we can even have a discussion we have to agree on some core issues.
- You can’t prevent every tragedy.
I know this sounds very simple but you always hear politicians say things like, “What can we do to ensure that a tragedy like this never happens again?” The answer is simple, you can’t. Evil and Crazy will find a way, it is our job to make it harder for them. We know much about hurricanes and tornados and can even make them illegal if we want but people still die. We can try to minimize the death but we can’t prevent it.
- Criminals break laws.
Again, a very simple concept but something we all need to understand. Criminals don’t care about gun laws or any laws for that matter. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have them. The laws are what allow us to arrest people after a crime is committed. “After a crime is committed” is a key phrase here that will figure into many of the suggestions.
Since this is a very complicated issue and touches on so many tangential issues I will try to break it into three components.
- Criminal Justice Reform Mental Health Care 3. Common Sense Gun Laws
- Criminal Justice Reform
Superintendent of the Chicago Police Department, Eddie Johnson, whom I admire, stated in a news article that the police know by name the people who are responsible for 90% of the shootings in Chicago. The problem is that the police arrest them and they are back on the street in no time. This is either because witnesses don’t show to court or they are convicted and receive a slap on the wrist.
We have a ton of gun laws on the books but we don’t take them seriously. In fact, our criminal justice system rewards individuals who are just bad shots. If you shoot at someone and miss you get a slap on the wrist. If you shoot someone and hit them but don’t kill them you get another slap on the wrist, If you shoot at someone and kill them and it is your first offense, you get another slap on the wrist. It is just crazy.
So first off, any crime committed with the use of a firearm, even if that firearm isn’t discharged is automatically a 10-year sentence, period. No time off for good behavior, or probation. 10 years away from civilized society and that means 3,650 days plus 2 for leap years. A second offense is natural life, period. (Again, are we going to take this seriously or not?) Yes, this is also going to cost a ton of money to confine these individuals but I ask you again, Are we serious about this?
On top of that, if you commit a gun-related offense or another violent criminal act in possession of a firearm you open yourself, your residence, your business and your vehicle to lifetime, random searches by law enforcement to ensure that you are no longer in possession of any firearms. (The ACLU and many others will have a problem with this one but oh well, again, are we serious about this or not?) My argument is that if you cannot conform to the just laws of a society then you give up certain rights to ensure the safety of those who do live according to the law. This applies to the residence even if other people live there and if you are a convicted gun offender you would be required to register for life with law enforcement so that they always know where you live. Failure to register or update registration would be another offense with similar sentencing. (We will have to probably open new landfills to accommodate the volume of illegal guns and other contraband that would be collected during these searches)
- Mental Health Care
Mental Health Care is a HUGE issue all by itself. There is so much under that umbrella. We have neglected mental health care in this country for way too long. People do not want to spend money on this. It is also a very complicated issue with regards to the medical privacy laws and such and I get that. First, we need to have more money in our budget to enable there to be enough mental health services available for those who cannot afford it and are the most vulnerable period.
As far as gun ownership and mental health issues there should be a nationwide database accessible only by mental health professionals and law enforcement of those people who have been adjudicated a danger to themselves or others. Suicidal and homicidal individuals should not have access to firearms. Can they find other ways to kill themselves or others? Yes. Can they purchase firearms on the black market? Yes. But then again there will be fewer available on the black market if we had those random searches right?
Again, in some cases, you just can’t stop crazy but you can make it more difficult for crazy.
- Common Sense Gun laws
We all know that it is illegal to murder someone with or without a firearm but I would like to see some common sense gun laws that would help everyone. I am a big believer in the 2nd Amendment but I am also a big believer in common sense.
Any device that converts a semi-automatic weapon to a fully automatic weapon should be illegal period. You don’t need an automatic weapon unless you are in a military situation. You could always join the military if you want to have that kind of experience, I did. Now maybe if you just want to have fun you can go to specific ranges that are set up for that but none of the weapons or magazines leave that site. Then you can spend all the money you want on wasting a bunch of ammunition shooting at targets. You can convert a semi-automatic weapon to fully automatic without purchasing a device but that is illegal as well. So remember the 10-year sentence and natural life sentence for violation of gun laws? They apply here as well.
There should at least be a national, minimum background check for every citizen to pass before they are allowed to purchase a gun and then the States could also have their own version as well. All of these databases should be shared as well as the Mental Health Database. (I guess this is what some are considering Universal Background Checks but I am all for trying to keep guns out of the hands of those who shouldn’t have them.)
There should be gun training involved in at least the first firearm purchase. You have to go through Driver’s Education to drive a car. You should know how to use safely the firearm you are buying.
Any convicted felon of any kind should not have a firearm and any firearms purchased before the conviction have to be surrendered. Many states already have this legislation but very seldom there is follow-up to ensure that the felon is compliant.
High capacity magazines are silly and nobody but the military really needs them. I was at the gun range yesterday and this guy walks up to the counter and says,” I would like to buy some high capacity magazines.” The guy behind the counter was a range instructor and answered him with, “Why don’t you just learn to shoot?” I laughed out loud. I was a police officer for many years and never needed high capacity magazines. I carried a Sig Sauer P220 and if I couldn’t get the job done with three magazines or 21 rounds then I needed to call out the National Guard.
I do believe that soft targets like schools should have armed security. If there are three entrances to the school then there should be armed security at each entrance. Yes, it costs money (Again, how serious are we?). It doesn’t have to look like a war zone. Three guys or gals in plain clothes making sure the mentally ill former or current student with the AR-15 doesn’t get very far. Let’s be serious, anyone with a death wish can kill people but we don’t have to make it easy for them.
Anyway, I didn’t want to make this article too long and there are many debates to be had but we shouldn’t let the extremes on both ends of the spectrum paralyze us into doing nothing. Let’s use common sense, get serious about gun crimes, address our mental health system by getting people care, protect our constitutional rights and protect our kids in school.
God Bless and Be Safe
Find Chicago History The Stranger Side on FACEBOOK
If you love Chicago History please consider subscribing to my posts. You will receive an email that alerts you when a new article is published. My list is completely spam free, and you can opt out at any time.