• What’s the Answer to Gun Violence in the U.S.?

    Last week 70 year-old Arthur Harmon fatally shot Phoenix attorney Mark Hummels (age 43) and his client Steven Singer (age 48) following a settlement conference. The amount in dispute: $17,000. Both men are survived by a wife and two children each.

    Candlelight Vigil by  KOMUnews from Flickr
    Candlelight Vigil by KOMUnews from Flickr

    It breaks my heart every time I hear about a senseless shooting. This one literally hit close to home. I live about two blocks away from the office building where this shooting occurred. My dog and I regularly walk past it on our morning excursions. After the shooting, police closed the entire street to traffic for most of the day and helicopters thundered overhead. The next day, news crews dotted the property with their transmission vans to broadcast updates on the morning news.

    The press will provide update reports about the funerals of the deceased, but then this story will be filed like so many shootings before it. Arthur Harmon died of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot so there won’t be a trial. We’ll all go with our lives while the surviving families grieve and try to find a way to move on. There are not words to express how sorry I am for them. Those men left for work that morning, probably never expecting that they wouldn’t be home for dinner that night.

    And I’m left wondering, “What’s the answer? What can we do to prevent more senseless deaths from occurring?”

    I’m pretty conflicted when it comes to regulating guns in this country. The problem isn’t with the guns as much as the gun owners. I applaud gun owners who are maniacal about safety – who keep their guns unloaded and locked up where others, particularly children, cannot get to them.

    Some people argue that there should be more restrictions on what types of guns you can own. That will prevent people from legally purchasing some firearms, but will it stop any illegal gun sales? Some people say you should have to have liability insurance if you own a gun. I suspect that will create the same problem that we have with car insurance – just because the law says you need it, that won’t stop someone from illegally driving without it. The responsible people will comply with this requirement, but I suspect these are the same people who are maniacal about gun safety. Furthermore, this likely won’t stop a shooting but only provide compensation to the injured. It can’t bring a loved one back.

    Then there are the questions about mentally ill people and guns. A law that prohibits gun ownership by anyone with a mental illness would be too broad. And what about people who weren’t mentally ill when they bought their gun but became violent due to mental illness? How do we get them to surrender their guns or not use them?

    The only solution that makes sense to me is complete shift in the way our society views guns. Guns are tools for hunting and self-defense. They’re not the solution when you’re angry at someone.

    If you hear about someone saying they’re going to kill someone, the proper response should be a forceful, “What the fuck are you talking about? Don’t do that.” Society should look down on anyone who voices such sentiments and turn their ass into the police as a potentially violent person. If you know who their intended target is, warn them. Likewise, if you know a gun owner who isn’t maniacal about gun safety, get on them about it. We shouldn’t have incidents where someone murders people because they easily stole a gun from a family member, acquaintance, or stranger.

    If you want to attack someone, do it with your words. I’m not an advocate for physical violence, but if you go on the offensive against someone, use your fists. You may injure someone badly, but it’s less likely you’ll kill them.

    My heart goes out to the families of the deceased and I’m frustrated we haven’t solved the gun violence problem in the U.S. Something needs to change before too many more lives are taken.

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