I wish I had a realistic answer to stopping mass shootings in this country. I wish somebody did.
But here we are again, 50 dead and 53 wounded in an attack on a gay nightclub, the worst mass shooting in the history of the United States, and no realistic answers are apparent.
The problem is with that word, realistic. Because it's pretty obvious why this country has way more gun killings than any other nation: we have way more guns.
We're not going to get rid of all those guns, though. No way. Not going to happen.
Australia was able to ban semiautomatic and automatic rifles and shotguns. It also instituted a mandatory buy-back program for newly banned weapons. Mass shootings stopped. However, we've got the 2nd Amendment, a fanatic group of NRA-backed gun nuts, and a House of Representatives that likely will remain in Republican control for a while.
This country's best hope for common sense gun control is to change the membership of our Supreme Court enough to allow a return to the legal principle that held sway throughout our nation's history until very recently: the "right to bear arms" isn't an individual right, so reasonable restrictions can be put on it.
They don't serve any sort of hunting or self-defense purpose. I own guns for those purposes (I don't hunt, but I've used a shotgun to blast ground squirrels burrowing under our house's foundation). I've never felt like I needed an assault weapon.
This would be a positive step to reducing the toll of mass shootings. It's hard to believe that Omar Mateen, the gunman in the gay nightclub massacre, could have killed and wounded so many people without using an AR-15-style assault rifle.
Still, a New York Times piece, "How They Got Their Guns," looks at the guns used in 16 recent mass shootings. Only five involved assault-style weapons. Further:
The vast majority of guns used in 16 recent mass shootings, including two guns believed to be used in the Orlando attack, were bought legally and with a federal background check. At least eight gunmen had criminal histories or documented mental health problems that did not prevent them from obtaining their weapons.
So stricter universal background checks seems like a good place to start in our nation's quest to reduce mass shootings. It seems crazy that Mateen was able to buy his guns so easily, even though he'd been investigated by the FBI as a possible ISIS-sympathizer.
Beyond this, I'm having trouble thinking of what can be done. Realistically.
Sure, it'd be great if nobody believed in fantasies about how an imaginary God wants those who don't believe in a certain made-up religion to kill unbelievers. This isn't going to happen anytime soon, though.
And while better mental health treatment is needed, the United States doesn't have more disturbed people than other countries. We have more freaking guns. People aren't the mass shooting problem in this country. Guns are. So it seems obvious that stronger gun control is the answer.
Along with more and better research on gun violence. The ban on this is absurd. That April 2016 story said;
A coalition of 141 medical organizations sent a letter to four senior members of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees on Wednesday urging them to restore funding for gun violence research at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“Medical professionals and our communities work to address the devastating and long-lasting physical and emotional effects of gun violence on victims, their families and their friends, but are hampered by the insufficient body of evidence-based research to use to point communities toward proven gun violence prevention programs and policies,” the letter reads.
How many more automobile deaths would there be today if car manufacturers had gotten Congress to ban research on air bags, antilock brakes, road design, and such? So here's another realistic step toward reducing gun deaths: put researchers to work on figuring out the best policies to do this.