What can be done? Here are a few ideas that have been suggested.
- Ban high capacity magazines (more than 10 rounds)
- Ban semi-automatic weapons
- Fund research into all aspects of the gun situation, including costs
- Institute universal background checks
- Improve mental health evaluation and access to services
- Create extreme risk protection orders to allow family members to petition a judge to remove guns from abusers or unstable relatives
- Pass red flag laws to allow police (not family members) to petition as above
- Raise age to 21 for buying any gun
The order I’ve listed above is not random. It’s what I feel is the effectiveness of the proposal, starting with the most effective at the top and decreasing to the least at the bottom. We might disagree on the precise ordering, but I suspect most would concur in general.
The list pinpoints the political divide.
Most Democratic legislators would be in favor of implementing the entire list with the banning of high capacity magazines and semi-automatic weapons a priority.
Most Republican legislators have fought implementation of any of the ideas.
It’s been tough for the Republican legislators, because we keep having mass executions and the public, the ones who vote for them, are getting fed up no matter what their party affiliation.
The shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School more than a year ago forced action in my state, probably because it occurred in the middle of the Florida legislative session and there wasn’t time for people to forget. What action? Well, for one thing, our enlightened legislators voted to allow teachers to be armed, a terrible idea. But they also raised the buying age to 21 from 18. A start. That legislation also included a red flag law.
Lately there has been talk nationally of some improved form of background checks, although we’ll wait and see if they have the courage to do anything significant.
Note where progress has been made. With the items at the bottom of the list! And if there is any effort with background checks, it’s only halfway up. The Republican legislators will grab the lowest hanging fruit they can get away with.
Meanwhile the actions that can make the biggest difference, the top items of the list, go untouched.
The public, by the way, sits in its views nearer the top of the list than the legislators, and the public is what is forcing the meager progress that is being made.
I have been careful to assign the low fruit accusation to the legislators who are Republican, because they do not reflect the position of many good folk in their party who find themselves appalled by the lack of action.
Obviously, I’d like to see more done. But finally, after too many years, tiny steps are being taken. And we can at least hope, before too long, that we’ll observe the last fruit plucked from the top of the tree.