No one solution to gun violence | News, Sports, Jobs
Gun violence is so common in the United States that no incident, however tragic, comes as a surprise. But the events of the last few days still deserve special attention, as they underscore a core truth about dealing with gun violence: changing just a rule or two would not be enough.
Earlier this month, a 6-year-old boy shot and wounded an elementary school teacher in Newport News, Virginia. According to authorities, this was not an accident: the first grader pulled out a pistol and fired a bullet through his teacher’s outstretched hand and into her chest. His family says he has one “Acute Disability”; The Post reports that administrators allayed concerns about the boy after he threw furniture into the classroom, barricaded a room’s doors and threatened to set a teacher on fire and watch her die. On the day of the shooting, his backpack was searched for evidence that he might have had a gun.
Across the country and over the weekend, a 72-year-old man killed 11 people at a dance hall in Monterey Park, a Los Angeles suburb. The attack came just after the New Year celebrations in the mostly Asian-American city. The 11 killed were in their 50s, 60s and 70s. When the carnage began, they danced Guangchang Wu, a public square dance popular with middle-aged and elderly visitors. Just two days later, a gunman killed seven people at two nurseries in Half Moon Bay, near San Francisco.
The Newport News case and the California cases should be considered together, not because they are so similar, but because they are so different. The 72-year-old in Monterey Park is the oldest person in US history accused of mass murder in public. The 6-year-old in Newport News is one of the youngest believed to be responsible for intentional gun violence. None of these people fit into the stereotypical alienated young man who has become the face of mass shootings in this country.
The Gun Violence Archive has counted 39 mass shootings so far in 2023. Congressional intransigence on gun reform often pushes politicians to choose individual solutions on which to focus their legislative focus, usually centered on what may have helped prevent the recent tragedy: One year, warning signs are all over mouth of every legislator; the next that “Friend loophole.” However, gun violence cases are so varied that the correct approach is not either-or, but all-or-above.
At least one of the guns involved in the Monterey Park shooting, a semi-automatic pistol equipped with a large-capacity magazine, may have been illegal in California. However, state bans on many semi-autos and magazines that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition do not apply to purchases made when the bans were not in effect. And while a new state law aimed at blocking possession of such magazines was upheld by the US Circuit Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, lower courts were ordered last year to reconsider it following another reckless ruling by the Arms Supreme Court .
This is worrying. The five deadliest mass shootings in modern American history involved any weapon that would allow the shooters to charge into the crowd without having to reload. That restrictions are federal is also important. Regardless of whether purchasing guns like the one at Monterey Park in California is illegal, it’s easy enough for a California resident to purchase one across state lines.
These interventions would not have stopped the 6-year-old in Newport News from shooting his teacher. This case includes a variety of other topics, from proper supervision and security in schools, particularly in response to warning signs, to safe gun storage. The public will likely learn more about the trigger lock that the family’s attorney says was installed on the gun in question. But measures that require secure, tamper-proof storage can deter children from getting their hands on guns. And where a gun is kept (in the case of Newport News, reportedly on the top shelf of a bedroom closet) matters too.
Changes that could have stopped other headline-grabbing shootings in recent years, from better background checks to pre-purchase wait times, to red flag laws and programs like state gun buybacks and gun licenses, are just as important as prosecuting dealers who allow their supply into illicit markets flow. It’s not yet clear if any of those efforts would have saved lives in Monterey Park or Half Moon Bay — but at other times they would have saved lives elsewhere.
As President Biden and the rest of the country once again attempt to stem the gun violence epidemic, policymakers should understand that no single solution can eliminate this scourge. Doing one thing is better than doing nothing at all—but pretending that the job is over would be irresponsible.
– The Washington Post