Considering our approach to managing gun violence in the US

This story is little more than meandering around one reporter’s journey from blind advocacy to careful consideration of how we approach gun laws, but it has plenty of links to support the elements of her development, and it draws the same conclusion I’ve been preaching for literally a decade: sweeping solutions are not solutions.

I used to think gun control was the answer. My research told me otherwise.

Let me jump ahead before you dismiss the article out of hand. The author, Leah Libresco, did not convert to a gun owner or advocate. Instead, she examined the solutions most generally favored by gun control advocates and found them to be essentially useless. Not because of intent, but because of assumptions and approach.

The summary is this: gun crime is varied and complex, and no broad solution will be even vaguely effective. Leah argues that the very approach we take should be focused, sometimes down to the personal level. There are still victim groups that can be better protected with some general changes, but those changes don’t need to be gun restrictions so much as better public services, education, and response from the community.

Just like with epidemiology, the real solution lies in starting from foundation principles, then crafting narrow changes to meet specific needs. Drug and gang shootings are different than mass shootings, which are different than suicides, which are different than road rage. There is no blanket approach – not magazine restrictions, not limits on ammo, not increased bans – that will suitably address any of these issues, let alone all of them. Other solutions are already in place and working, such as mental health and domestic violence reporting to the National Instant Criminal Background Check database, but those have to be coupled with deeper support for these groups.

In the case of domestic abusers, we should examine faster reporting and specific, limited restrictions on firearms for those under investigation, including a defined period of confiscation in addition to better options for physical protection of the victims.

It’s time rethink our public dialog and move away from the intractable demands for legislation that just will not ever work. What will work is putting in effort, time, and critical thinking to address very specific vectors with surgical precision. That scares a lot of people who just want their way immediately and without question.

My response to those people? Too bad.


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