Nicholas Kristoff, columnist for the NYT, recently wrote an article about how to reduce gun violence (GV), 6 November 2017. He cites the USA as having the highest rate of firearms ownership among WDN (Western Developed Nations). America’s private arsenal is six times more lethal than Canada’s and 30 times worse than Australia’s. His recipe for a safer nation? “…automobiles are actually a model for the public health approach I am suggesting. We don’t ban cars, but we work hard to regulate them-and limit access to them.” He cites a study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration which notes that in 1946 there were 9.35 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled. In 2016, with millions of more cars on the road, the rate had dropped to 1.18.

Kristoff asks the question: What would a public health approach look like for guns if it were modeled after cars? He lists nine actions:

1) UNIVERSAL BACKGROUND CHECKS on all licensed and private sales. Legally, when buying a gun from a licensed dealer you must go through a UBC. In many states, if you buy from a private seller, you do not have to go through a UBC.
2) PROTECTION ORDERS: Keep men subject to domestic violence protection orders from having guns.
3) BAN UNDER-21s: A ban on people under 21 purchasing firearms.
4) SAFE STORAGE: Mandate trigger locks on all guns, and guns and ammo stored separately.
5) STRAW PURCHASES: Tighter prohibition of people purchasing guns for other people, and limits on how many guns can be purchased in a month.
6) AMMUNITION CHECKS: One-time background checks for anybody buying ammunition.
7) END IMMUNITY: Do not subsidize the gun industry.
8) BAN BUMP STOCKS: These mimic automatic weapon fire by turning a semi-automatic weapon into a rapid fire automatic weapon.
9) RESEARCH ‘SMART GUNS’: SGs fire only after a fingerprint or PIN is entered, or if used near a particular bracelet.

I would add INCREASE availability of mental health services for the general public. Sadly, mental health resources have been cut back in many states even though person on person homicides by those suffering from MH issues only occurs in 2-4% of cases. Yet, there is a high correlation between suicides and MH issues. Second, I would ban semi-automatic assault weapons and have them available only at gun shooting ranges. Third, I would remove immunity from gun manufacturers being sued.

The above suggestions are reasonable and common sense. Our concern should always be SAFETY FIRST. The Second Amendment speaks of “well regulated” guns and militia. I John speaks of loving each other. The above list allows responsible gun enthusiasts to purchase and enjoy their weapons. SAFELY!

Rev. Dr. Ron Letnes