We eliminate gun violence first by eliminating guns. Sure, getting rid of legitimate channels for purchasing guns will at first mean only people who purchase guns illegally have them. And yes, making it illegal to get guns will not keep people who are hellbent determined to break the law and need a gun to do it from getting them.
But we’re not talking about wiping out all criminal enterprise and all criminal thought and all crime. We’re talking about keeping people from shooting other people. That starts with keeping guns away from as many people as possible.
We need to eliminate gun violence. You know, when a man kills his infant child’s mother. That’s gun violence. And people who don’t have a gun at home don’t commit it.
People–no matter how disturbed or angry they are–do not walk into movie theatres, shopping malls, and elementary schools and kill people if they do not have easier means of getting weapons than they do of getting help. Or at the very least, they don’t do it without anyone suspecting they were going to.
When we sell guns in stores to just anyone, even if we do a “background check”, we are saying to them that it is ok for them to want to shoot someone. That is the the problem. And that is an easy problem to solve.
If you cannot legitimately own a gun, there is no tortured logic by which it is okay to use it. If we build a culture that accepts that people do not own guns and people do not use guns, we eliminate gun violence. It won’t happen quickly, but it will happen.
A score of children shot dead 11 days before Christmas. There is nothing acceptable about that. And it is immoral to accept it. But 20 children shot dead 11 days before Christmas is the logical consequence of the gun lobby, of American resistance to gun control. It is all of our fault.
As long as we continue to accept the (even regulated) sale of guns to anyone for any reason, we will continue to live in a world where children are shot at school, where ordinary people are shot in shopping malls and restaurants and movie theatres.
Guns kill people. People with guns kill people. It stops when first we get rid of the guns cause we can’t get rid of the people.
Edited to add
The Children’s Defense Fund, which is mentioned in this Wikipedia article Wikipedia link, advocates strongly in favor of gun control. They file briefs (.pdf) in support of the laws in cases challenging gun bans and gun control laws. They release regular reports on gun violence in the US and child casualties, they write community toolkits for lobbying for tighter gun laws. Generally, they do a lot of work directed at changing the culture which treats gun violence as normal, which I believe is necessary to move us away from our dysfunctional relationship with guns and gun ownership.
Gun control is not the focus of the organization, which is either a bonus or a detriment, depending on your analysis of the issue. Because they frame the issue in terms of larger social welfare questions and talk about how gun control policies aid education policies and lower social welfare costs, however, I think their advocacy is quite compelling. They catch a fair amount of criticism, on the other hand, for “using children to push their agenda” from gun ownership rights advocacy groups. I think the criticisms are unfounded.
Its accountability and transparency are given the highest rating at Charity navigator, although its working capital and fundraising efficiency scores are fair to middle. So, now I’m adding a new charity to my monthly giving. I’ve got Planned Parenthood (and the Action Fund), Medical Students for Choice, the American Red Cross of Greater Chicago and now the Children’s Defense Fund. If only I had real money to give them.
Marian Wright Edelman, the founder, is a personal hero of mine and her husband was one of the best law professors I had.