One of our daughters works as a paraprofessional in a local elementary. Six of our grandchildren attend public schools in Washington State. I taught 31-years at Sumner High School. When I heard of the Uvalde, Texas school massacre I imagined our daughter and grandchildren in that terrible situation. I pictured myself as one of those teachers who found themselves in the middle of a shooting spree.
I search for answers but know that nothing will be done by Congress because gun rights trump reason and public safety. I feel a sense of rage because gun rights have been turned into a straw man to rouse the masses to vote to protect their gun rights. Ironically, no one is trying to void the 2nd Amendment, although that is how the pro-gun messages have been framed. There are 400 million guns in this country and 332.4 million people, so the fear that people will lose their guns is rationally a non-starter.
1) Raise the legal gun-owning age to 21. There is usually a vast difference in maturity between an 18-year-old and a 21-year-old. Such a law would have stopped the Uvalde shooter from purchasing two AR-15s. He had just turned 18. For those who would argue that you can join the army at 18, the answer is to carve out an exception for such people. Assign criminal liability for those who provide unsupervised access to guns to those under 21. Impose enhanced liability to those whose children under the age of 21 commit acts of gun violence. Parents or guardians would be charged along with the shooters.
Sixty percent of those who commit mass shootings have been convicted of domestic violence. Permanently ban them from owning guns. The same would also apply to those convicted of racial violence. Anyone convicted of harming animals should also be permanently banned. Correlations in these areas is very high with mass shootings.
These approaches are age and behavior based. The Supreme Court has traditionally upheld such gun restrictions. They do not threaten the 2nd Amendment. But, according to Beau, these measures “are only a bandaid.”
2) Trigger a cultural shift among the gun crowd. De-glamorize guns as a symbol of masculinity and coolness. Often, it’s the gear that gun enthusiasts wear that equates guns with being cool. Ban all advertisements to kids that tie guns to the military. Doing so creates an aura of “techno-coolness”.
Have the Department of Defense offer boot camp without obligations to serve in the military. This would shift the emphasis to a warrior culture rather than a “techno-cool” culture. It would change the thinking from “might-makes-right” to “selfless service”. Incentivize these programs by offering a free year of college or a tax break.
3) Relieve the pressure on youth by improving social safety nets. Most of the shooters had multiple stressors that led to their violent acts. Provide Medicare to all with mental health access as well as job opportunities to relieve economic stressors. This will help to shift the culture of violence.
Gun groups have advocated arming teachers. As a former high school teacher, I can envision having a struggle with a student trying to take my gun. The idea of cutting down the number of entrances to better protect a school is an invitation for panic during a fire or earthquake when students need to exit the school immediately.
None of the above solutions should threaten the gun lobbyists and 2nd Amendment advocates. Changing the way potential shooters think is the goal. Raising age requirements and changing behavior should not cause the Supreme Court to rule these measures unconstitutional. Both political parties could get behind most of these measures.
I don’t want to learn that our daughter or one of our grandchildren was involved in a mass school shooting. Even if they survived, they would be traumatized by the event, scarring them for the rest of their lives. If Congress will not act, the Washington State Legislature can pass such pass laws. Washington state has always been one of the leaders in the nation to bring about change.
Contact your legislature and members of Congress. Act to end the violence. Stop the shootings.