Now this is an area in which I have little expertise, but like those in Hollywood or the music industry who weigh in from time to time on political and social issues without any knowledge or expertise, I am going to offer my unsolicited personal opinion.
I don’t own an assault weapon, but my house contains a few less threatening weapons so I am a proponent of gun ownership. However, when it comes to assault weapons, I can’t think of one good reason on God’s green earth that any individual outside of law enforcement or the military would need to possess an assault weapon. But yet, 1.3 million such weapons are sold each year in the US. The amount of carnage left by such weapons in the hands of radical extremists, those motivated by hatred or deranged murderers is unimaginable unless you have been directly impacted--and then I am sure that it’s surreal but in a bizarre way.
The focus needs to be on gun control legislation, which disappointedly wasn’t passed by either party yesterday in the Senate. How embarrassing. The American people deserve far better than what we are getting from our Senators and Congressional representatives as they allow special interest and partisanship to influence their voting. We are going to continue to allow those on terror watch lists, those with mental illness and known or suspected terrorists to buy guns? Seriously? They couldn’t even support expanded background checks to weed out those who are a danger to virtually everyone.
And don’t give me that we are trampling on the rights of gun owners. If you don’t fall into one of the above categories, i.e. radical extremists or deranged murderer, then you have nothing to worry about. You’ll get your gun, just not today. I don’t think that our forefathers when writing the second amendment of the Constitution had weapons in mind that could mass murder its citizens in a matter of seconds.
What you don’t hear after a mass shooting like San Bernardino or Orlando is that more needs to be done to address behavioral health issues. We already spend over $220 billion annually in the US exclusively on behavioral health, but it still isn’t enough or it isn’t being spent wisely. Just look at the waste that occurs in the fee-for-service acute care setting with testing, retesting, unnecessary admissions, ED use for non-emergent situations and other potentially avoidable utilization. Maybe, how those monies are being spent needs to be re-examined? Congress needs to allow funding for gun violence research then work to appropriately apply funding that addresses behavioral health issues which can lead to gun violence.
There is so much more that needs to be done and our leaders in Washington need to do their jobs in representing the American people and not special interests on this issue. From 1994 to 2004, there was an assault weapons ban in the US. During that time, there was only one outlier year and that was in 1999--the year of the Columbine High School shooting. Since the ban was allowed to expire in 2005, there have been 44 mass shootings where three or more people were killed. During the preceding ten years during the ban, there were 17 such shootings.
In addition to the legislation and funding mentioned above, reinstituting the ban would certainly be worth a try because whatever we are doing currently, it isn’t working.