A Sketch Towards Gun Control

The National Institute for Health has conducted at least three studies worth citing in relation to gun violence — “The Relationship Between Gun Ownership and Firearm Homicide Rates in the United States, 1981–2010,” “Examining the relationship between the prevalence of guns and homicide rates in the USA,” and “Firearm Laws and Firearm Homicides: A Systematic Review.”

In the first, it was found that “Gun ownership was a significant predictor of firearm homicide rates.” In the second, it was found that “state-level gun ownership … is significantly associated with firearm and total homicides but not with non-firearm homicides.” In the third — a review of 46 years of peer-reviewed articles — it was found that —

In the aggregate, stronger gun policies were associated with decreased rates of firearm homicide, even after adjusting for demographic and sociologic factors. Laws that strengthen background checks and permit-to-purchase seemed to decrease firearm homicide rates. Specific laws directed at firearm trafficking, improving child safety, or the banning of military-style assault weapons were not associated with changes in firearm homicide rates. The evidence for laws restricting guns in public places and leniency in gun carrying was mixed.

These findings are worth running through three separate points:

(1) Gun ownership is higher in rural areas.
(2) Gun homicide rate is higher in urban areas. (To see how this breaks down a little bit better, head here.)
(3) DC v. Heller, McDonald v. Chicago.

One thought that occurs to me as a way to potentially address the problems raised by the data and the three points above would be in creating a threshold loosely made in the model of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. In other words: craft a law that says that — based on the data — there should be no more than X gun-related incidents of violence in every state in the country. If the numbers cross a certain point, restrictions would be put into place, i.e., stronger background checks, federal money gets unlocked so that cities and states can aggressively pursue buybacks, and so on. (Perhaps ensure that more money is made available to programs similar to Umedics, MASK, and CPS-related support (as described here) in affected communities.)

The buy-in here is both safety and the preservation of the second amendment. If there aren’t any gun-related homicides in your area, then it would be as if the law simply didn’t exist. You could own a gun and the law wouldn’t care. (So to speak.) If gun-related deaths passed a certain point, then a layered approach mindful of the community with an eye towards safety would be implemented.

The minefield here comes in gaming out potential loopholes without overwriting the law. What if a police force uses this non-existent sketch of a law as an excuse to all but invade and terrorize a neighborhood of people of color? What if a police force with enough problems to warrant being investigated by the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department uses the law as an excuse to pursue once again what got them into trouble with the Department of Justice in the first place? Has the culture at large had a proper thinking through of what the death of Philando Castile meant, especially in regards to a question like this?

The solution should land just so.

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