As an ER doctor, I’ve seen the trauma, suffering and devastating loss of life from gun violence up close. The destruction it causes to the victims, their families and communities is heartbreaking and, oftentimes, avoidable.
I also support Second Amendment rights overall for law-abiding Americans to obtain firearms through legal channels to protect their homes, themselves and their families, and for hunting and sport. I do not see supporting both the Second Amendment and commonsense gun safety reform as mutually exclusive, though, and I find it increasingly difficult to follow arguments justifying the possession of military-grade weapons and similar accessories by the general public.
America, the only industrialized nation with this degree of violence, should address it as a public health issue. The U.S. has a history of using data-driven policies to make us safer – seat belts, child car seats, airbags. We should restore funding for gun violence research so that our policies actually have a positive impact on public safety. Are current laws effective? If not, why and what can be done to improve their implementation, or should the law itself be completely reformed?
The discussion should include innovative technologies, such as biometric locks and affordable, safe storage solutions.
I believe commonsense gun safety reform can ultimately be accomplished while protecting the rights of lawful gun owners. There is already consensus between households with firearms and those without, which include:
- Closing the Internet and gun show “loopholes” by requiring background checks;
- “No-fly, no buy” so that those on terrorist watch lists have harder access to firearms;
- Ensuring that purchasers have passed necessary background checks, properly registered their firearm(s), and received appropriate gun safety training.
Finally, mental health must also be part of equation. Mass shootings are truly horrific and instantly capture our attention. However, suicides and homicides make up nearly 90% of gun-related deaths according to 2016 data available. When addressing the issue of gun violence, we too often ignore the contributing role of mental health issues, including substance abuse and addiction, to our regrettable detriment.