Gun violence is at an epidemic level in our country right now. We have more gun violence and mass shootings than any other nation in the world, by far. At the same time our constitution guarantees the right of citizens to bear arms and this is a right that should not be taken for granted, nor removed. Like many constitutionally guaranteed rights there are limits; you can’t yell fire in a crowded theater and nobody is allowed to own a personal howitzer or nuclear bomb.
Gun violence is much more than a personal freedom issue, but it is a public health issue and it must be researched and studied like any other public health crisis. First and foremost, the Dickey Amendment, which prevents the CDC from studying gun violence must be overturned. This law was enacted in 1996 and gun accessibility and gun violence have both increased dramatically since then. If we are going to make a dent in the gun violence in our country, we must conduct public health studies on gun violence.
There are several gun control measures that are common sense and do not infringe on the general freedoms that we enjoy in regards to the second amendment. First, we must ban people who have been convicted of domestic violence from owning firearms. This group of people are far more likely than any other group to commit violence with guns, including mass shootings. We also need a ban on bump stocks, which were used in the Las Vegas shooting, and can turn semi-automatic weapons effectively into automatic weapons. We must ensure that all gun purchases come with background checks as 22 percent of gun purchases are made without them. Finally, we must ensure that all firearms are stored safely in the home; this includes trigger locks, guns stored in locked safes and ammunition stored separately.
When we open up research on gun violence and better understand the causes, types of guns used, frequency, and any patterns we can better understand how to prevent this tragedy from continuing to grow. We also need to provide better mental health care and improve the social safety net so that we can combat the personal issues that would motivate a person to commit such a heinous crime.