I was watching a hummingbird dive bombing flowers in the garden from my office window, when CNN started broadcasting the first bulletin of a mass shooting at a community college in Roseburg, Oregon.
Like President Obama my reaction was “OMG, not again”.
Mainstream media and social media reacted with an early flurry of reporting that was reduced to the first five minutes of the evening news.
The shooting of Congresswoman Gabby Gifford even elicited a brief debate among her Congressional colleagues over the conflicting priorities of the Constitutional “right to own and bear firearms” and the Declaration of Independence’s assertion of the “right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”.
But even then Congress failed to act.
Current Background Checks Ignore the Common Denominator
In the business world we know that identifying trends early can help a business to capitalize on future opportunities and to avoid repeating past or present mistakes.
From Sandy Hook, to Aurora, to Virginia Tech, to Charleston, to Roseberg, and too many points in between there is a common denominator to these mass shootings. All of these killers were young, male, alienated, unemployed, and at least partially dependent on parental housing and support.
All of these killers used legally obtained, large caliber, rapid firing weapons when they suddenly sprang into the public consciousness amid a hail of bullets.
The Charleston shootings could have been prevented if Congress had not imposed a three day maximum waiting period for background checks. In that case, the FBI did not receive a response to their criminal record query to South Carolina law enforcement before the waiting period expired. A completed background check would have revealed the shooter’s criminal record, disqualifying him.
No Gun, No Massacre.
It’s irrational for Congress, any legitimate gun owner, or member of the National Rifle Association (NRA) to object to the simple statement: “no gun can be purchased until the FBI has completed a background check” whether it takes three days or a week or two weeks — whether the gun is purchased from a gun dealer in a store or a gun dealer at a gun show.
Background checks must be expanded to include FBI access to any adolescent – as well adult — mental health diagnostic and/or treatment records. The records, themselves, would not be an automatic disqualifier but would trigger an in-depth FBI interview before approving the gun purchase.
Since the unthinkable massacre at Sandy Hook in December, 2012, there have been 1000 mass shooting incidents in the United States.
An average 32,000 Americans die by gun shot in the USA every year.
In fact, within hours of President Obama’s condolence call in Roseberg, Oregon, fatal shooting incidents were reported on Arizona and Texas college campuses.
Effective background checks would not reduce this number to zero — but the evidence is conclusive. Stronger background checks would reduce the number.
The NRA supports legislation introduced in the US Senate early this year that would strengthen mental health checks for gun owners and potential gun owners.
If Congress can’t enact sensible gun reform, we need a new Congress.