It has been an exhausting few weeks as gun violence prevention advocates. We were still following news from the Las Vegas mass shooting when the Sutherland Springs, Texas shooting occurred.
And those events “book end” many other gun deaths in between… the gun murder of three Walmart shoppers in suburban Denver, the 16 year old prep student shot and killed in Philadelphia, the participant in a minor “fender bender” in Allentown PA who was murdered by the other driver. Wow.
And through all of this, we continue to hear elected officials send “thoughts and prayers” to the victims. How about sending some new approaches to solving the problem?
It is hard to listen at times to the less than truthful proclamations that our elected representatives make. For example, “It’s not about the guns,”
Well… yes it is. Yes, people shoot guns… but it is a gun that is hurling a lethal projectile toward another living being. Holding up your finger and saying “bang bang” doesn’t do it.
Gun Sense Chester County is not in favor of banning all guns, and we do know many fine, responsible gun owners. But let’s be honest that reconsidering the degree of access to guns and who is accessing guns is part of what needs to be considered.
As another example, “It’s a mental health issue.” Yes, gun violence is at times intertwined with mental health issues. So, if that is what you believe, address it!
The truth is, in Pennsylvania mental health funding was dramatically slashed following the 2008 Financial Crisis and has yet to get anywhere near pre-2008 levels. We are 41st out of 50 states on this measure.
Federal mental health funding declined from 2010 to 2016, and is only now beginning to increase.
And, we note that President Trump signed an Executive Order reducing the number of mental health records that would have been fed into the national pre gun purchase background check system. If it’s about mental health, why are you reducing mental health record reporting even when there are due process provisions to allow for a restoration of gun purchase rights?
So, let’s be honest. Gun violence is complicated. Gun violence will not be easily or quickly solved. Proposed solutions are going to leave some people unhappy, those who do own guns and those who don’t.
And, yet we MUST persevere.
One final moment of honesty… voter expressions of dissatisfaction can make a difference.
In the recent Virginia election, the National Rifle Association spent $2 million backing a slate of candidates. Almost all of them lost. Perhaps there is an opportunity to pursue some common sense solutions after all.