It’s time to stop gun violence in America with new approaches
There have been over 300 mass shootings in this country this year. That’s more than one a day. Our national laws aren’t working to stop the violence. It’s time to look and learn from other countries. We might be able to implement what has worked elsewhere to stop mass shootings in this country. The US has the horrible distinction of being the country with the most gun violence in the world. Australia, Canada, England, and New Zealand have had tragic mass shootings as well, but instead of stopping with kind thoughts and prayers, they made significant policy changes to prevent future mass shootings.
England banned the purchase of semiautomatic weapons within a year after the Dunblane Primary school shooting in 1996. To date, that has been their worst mass shooting. One teacher and 16 students died and 15 were wounded. Australia had a gun buyback program that collected over 1 million guns that were melted down. In Canada, Prime Minister Gary Trudeau is strengthening background checks. Over 1,500 models of assault weapons are banned there. Germany has strong licensing requirements for gun ownership and regulates ammunition as well as gun ownership. New Zealand restricts machine guns, assault rifles, and military style semi-automatic rifles.
Nationally, repeal of the “Protection of Lawful Commerce for Firearms Manufactures” would remove protection from liability from gun manufacturers. Gun manufacturers are making a massive profits and need to be held accountable. Gun Violence costs America $229 Billion annually, that is more than $700 per person in the US. Costs include response from first providers, legal proceedings, medical treatment, and long-term care. Hidden costs like the lifetime effects of trauma on the victims and their families and friends cannot be calculated.
More guns do not make us safer. Instead more guns result in more shootings. In this country, there are more guns than there are people, more than one gun per person. It is because we have so many guns in this country that we have many more deaths and injuries. There are more completed suicides in states with more guns. There are more deaths and injuries in domestic violence when guns are in the home. And, most tragically there are more mass shootings when guns, especially when high-powered guns are easily available. Sadly, children in this country are more likely to die in a school shooting than in a car accident. Let’s show real respect for human life, by having stricter laws to reduce access to guns, especially semi-automatics. We all deserve a right to personal safety, especially our children.
Virginia Pratt is a licensed social worker who lives in Boston.