We’re talking about it. Here’s an outline for a comprehensive plan that involves everyone doing their part. Sure, some of it may be naive, and almost none of it was my idea. But hear me out. Here’s what I think everyone can do to reduce gun violence nation-wide. Help me tweak this. Let’s crowdsource it. If the feedback is supportive enough, we just might send this suggestion on to politicians, pundits, preachers, parents, and peew-peew peddlers.
We can call it The Ballistic Pruning Accord
[Note: All listed measures are assumed to be taken voluntarily, except those taken by government authorities. In addition, this list does not include measures already taken in most areas, such as intruder drills and locked-door policies in public schools.]Schools
- Adopt this policy: Any day a student brings a gun on school grounds in their vehicle, if they immediately hand it over to a school resource officer or other police personnel, that weapon will be placed in a safe by the officer fur the full day, the student will not be punished, and the weapon will be returned to them at the end of the day after the buses depart (provided they are old enough to own a gun and the gun is theirs). Notify the parents, but no disciplinary action is taken by the school, so long as the student hands the weapon over to the resource officer.
- Institute stricter extra-curricular penalties for bullying. When it is verified that a student has participated in bullying, they cannot participate in competative extra-curricular activities. If half the team is guilty of bullying another child, the community should feel the weight of of the punishment. A canceled ballgame is better than a tragedy in the news.
- Have teachers adopt the “Chase’s Teacher” strategy or a variation of it. Ask students to privately submit who they want to sit near and who they would nominate for something exceptional. Use that data to determine who is being excluded. Start early.
- Extend the “moment of silence” and call it a “devotion time.” Ten minutes of quiet time for students to devote to an activity (except social media). You can save time for this by making the salute-and-pledge routine both before school and optional (after all, the best way to install patriotism is to make it voluntary, not compulsory), as well as transitioning announcements from seven minutes over an intercom to message boards and social media. During devotion time, staff are allowed to lead in spiritual devotion with students who choose participate (which is no different than, say, the FCA).
- If you choose to arm teachers, do so in this way: Teachers will volunteer secretly and be selected secretly, given training and an evaluation before carrying a concealed firearm. Only the principal, superintendent, and police chief are to know which teachers are armed. The weapons must be thumbprint ID accessible only by that teacher.
- Organize more events where students, young men in particular, can embark on authentic, structured risk-taking activities that make them feel powerful, trustworthy, and masculine without requiring the power to harm others. Offer after school programs where young men sit around in a circle and talk through their issues with authority, school, parents, what kind of men they want to become and how they deal with the obstacles they face. These programs should be led by appropriately trained counselors.
The Federal Government
- Withdraw all U.S. troops from Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria. Return our boys home. Have a huge parade. Let them be present as fathers, mentors, and citizen-leaders.
- Reduce the military budget (which will be easy if you withdraw from the Mediterranean-Levant). Use the money that has gone to the longest U.S. war in history and its adjunct conflicts and direct that funding toward providing healthcare for U.S. veterans, as well as foreign medical and financial aid for families of foreign civilian casualties at the hands of U.S. forces. Create a special, robust, thorough program that provides psychological aid to veterans who return home.
- Reform the mental health examinations given to those who enlist in the armed services. Raise the minimum age to be deployed 21.
- Allow the CDCaP to use “funds made available for injury prevention and control at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention” to fund firearms-related research (which is not the same as promoting gun regulation.) Explain to anyone confused by this that “research” and “legislation” are two different words with two different meanings. Then remind them that the NRA conducts its own research and then buys politicians.
- Sign a law demanding that every semiautomatic sold in the U.S. be fitted with micro stamping technology.
- Allow every branch of the U.S. military to release a statement, individually (and voluntarily) signed by active members in the armed services, stating that even if legislation were passed to ban all firearms for civilians in the U.S., they will not participate in any measures that violate their conscience, and will defend the 2nd Amendment using their own skills and equipment.
- To help reduce the senseless slaughter of innocent, helpless children under the rhetoric of selective “individual rights,” overturn Roe v Wade.
- Have the President, House Speaker, and Chief Supreme Court Justice host a televised conference with U.S. and Australian experts and lawmakers. In the event, discuss the nature of Australia’s National Firearms Agreement, its merits, its drawbacks, and the pros and cons of enacting similar legislation in the U.S. The conference must last at least one full day. Agree to have the same conference again in 8 years.
State and Local Governments
- Require background checks on all gun licenses and firearm purchases. Do not allow convicted felons with a violence-related charge, including domestic abuse, to possess firearms. After a standard period of ten years without recidivism, restore the right on a case-by-case basis.
- Follow up with an investigation every time someone with a criminal record attempts to purchase a gun and fails the background check in order to determine if the felon has committed or is attempting to commit another crime.
- Follow up on investigating all straw purchases of firearms.
- Require a minimum waiting period on all firearm purchases.
- Refuse to militarize local and state police.
- Enforce stricter punishments (such as firing) for police officers who abandon their training by practicing brutality (such as killing an unarmed victim who resisted non-violently)
- Decriminalize marijuana, a drug that does not make its users violent, and whose criminalization has fueled the drug war and racially disproportionate mass incarceration. Use the resources once spent on a less harmful drug than alcohol and use those resources to investigate and prosecute violent crimes. Empty our overcrowded prisons of small-time drug offenders and spend more time and resources on securing and rehabilitating violent offenders.
- Remove all “Jim Crow” statues from outdoor display and place them in museums, where they can be protected, preserved and given historical context. Allow for conflicting voices to challenge one another in these spaces. This will also provide civil dialogue and connection between isolated people that would otherwise have shouting matches anonymously on the internet or with torches and shouts in the night.
- Investigate where illegally purchased guns are coming from. Initiate public education campaigns to promote responsible gun storage (for example, in inner cities, teach people not to store guns in their cars or under trash cans).
- Offer gun “‘buyback” programs. Offer monetary compensation for surrendering semiautomatic handguns. Require participants to show proof of local residency, to deter out-of-city dealers from using the buyback to liquidate low-value inventory. Reward communities who reach a certain goal by building community gardens, basketball courts, skate parks, etc.
- Establish harsher penalties for stealing weapons. Require all lost or stolen firearms to be reported to local police. Do not penalize the individual for their report. Do penalize the individual if they did not make the report within ten days of that traced weapon being discovered elsewhere in relation to a crime.
- Develop a violence interruption program based on the work the Dr. Gary Slutkin. Offer violent offenders a stipend if they participate in an array of social service programs designed to address their risk factors for offending. Since a single homicide burdens the public with hundreds of thousands of dollars in costs, each prevented homicide will essentially pay for this program. This will also build trust between offenders, potential offenders, and the town authorities.
- Install cameras and microphones on your police vehicles and persons. Do so for their protection as well as the protection of citizens.
- Stop rewarding people for psychopathic behavior by promoting them to management.
- Refuse to give a bonus to an employee in management who fired people merely to save some money for the investors.
- Provide stress management activities (privately or in group settings) for employees on a regular basis. This will also improve efficiency, retention, and customer satisfaction in many workplaces.
- Provide more job opportunities for convicted felons. Don’t be surprised when they return to crime because you did not provide them any jobs due to the stigma of their past actions.
- Insurance providers: expand and fortify your mental health options. If money is your concern, consider that helping prevent violent tragedies reduces the amount of money you may have to shell out in the event of a shooting. Reduce your costs.
- Since about 90% of U.S. shooting deaths occur in the home as accidents, remove all weapons from your home that are not locked in a safe, the combination to which only adults know, adults without drug abuse issues, a history of violence, or a history of mental illness. If you don’t have a safe or adults without these issues, remove the guns altogether. You’re more likely to die from a gunshot in your home by owning one than by someone else coming in and shooting you.
- If you own a firearm, take your children shooting sometime, hunting for animals or at non-human-shaped targets. Let them feel a gun going off so they know what it’s like. Reduce the mysticism. Discuss with them the dangers of mishandling a firearm. Discuss with them that firearms are not what make you respected, powerful, masculine, or righteous.
- Dads, own up to fatherhood. Be there for your children. If you had them out of wedlock, man up. You’re the father. Provide, teach, nurture, care. Be an example. Be there emotionally.
- Especially in the early stages of your children’s lives, be close, hold them, look them in the eye, speak to them, be nurturing.
- Get involved in peacemaking churches (see below). Avoid churches that nurture nationalism, scapegoating, “culture war” obsessions, and identity politics.
- Don’t shame your sons when they’re weak. Help them grow stronger. Fathers, show your sons when you cry.
- While violent video games do not cause violent actions, they do encourage aggression, which can increase the likelihood to violent actions. Pay attention to the ESRB ratings. Don’t let your nine-year-old play Call of Duty. Do not allow your children to play simulations of real-life violent conflicts for entertainment purposes. Be aware of the games they play and discuss the games with them.
- Eat dinner together regularly. No screens, unless you’re watching the same thing and talking about it too.
Groups and Individuals
- Purchase tasers, pepper spray, etc. Enroll in martial arts classes. If you carry a gun, go to the shooting range regularly so that if you choose to use it to stop a violent situation, you’ll at least have good aim.
- Don’t wear apparel that depict weapons as a positive symbol of power, masculinity, or identity, or tells complete strangers walking by you what your opinion of guns is.
- Remove all bumper stickers about divisive issues, especially those about violence or disparaging human beings. They do nothing persuasive and contribute to anger, resentment, and isolation. The last place someone needs to have your views shoved in their face like a popup ad is when they’re stuck behind you in traffic. If you want to engage in politics while driving, listen to talk radio where people discuss issues without yelling or resorting to ad hominem arguments.
- On social media, don’t get caught up in sharing memes and pithy sayings relating to gun violence. Only participate by using complete sentences, well drawn out arguments, and thoughtful discussion. Do not include pictures of guns, as those are unnecessary.
- Stop protesting with vagina hats. This does not decrease misogyny. It does not make angry, insecure men less prone to victimizing other people.
- Find ways to convert dangerous weapons into tools for cultivating the earth. Share this with others.
- When tough men show they’re in pain, vulnerable, or afraid, praise them for being honest and authentic.
- Throw away all decor that promotes a “God, Guns, and Patriotism” theology.
- When you organize a protest against anything, make the protest organized. Follow in the steps of the The Suffragette Parade, Martin Luther King, Mohandas Ghandi, Cesar Chavez, and Malcolm X. When you march, march. Stay in line with each other. Demand to be taken seriously by taking yourselves seriously.
- Refuse all donations from weapons manufacturers. Only take donations from NRA members who are not employed by the weapon industry.
- Do not release a single statistic without it being verified by two other sources. Do not conduct your own research. Would Big Tobacco be trusted with its own research on what causes cancer?
- Publicly recant the irresponsible statement by your CEO, Wayne LaPierre, “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” Publish a list of at least twenty times in the past decade in which you’ve seen this not be the case (if you need help, go here).
- Release a public decree that from now on you will honestly pursue the interests of individual gun owners as hobbyists, as you were originally formed to do, and function no longer as a political tool for the corporate gun lobby.
- Stop yelling so much on news programs.
- Stop telling people to fear so much.
- Make a pact between all mass media and social media practitioners to refrain from reproducing the names, faces, detailed histories, and extended statements about violent perpetrators. Place as little focus as possible on the perpetrators of violent crimes. Do not provide media attention as a reward for such behavior. Do not show their faces on television or on the internet. Do not repeat their names. Do not name their weapons of choice, or show pictures of them. Do not share what they wrote in their manifestos. Do not share the videos they posted. Rather, direct viewers to the police resources that provide the information (as the information is important to have access to). Do not grant these offenders their desired fame. Disregard what happens to your ratings as a result. Do not line the pockets of your investors by telling isolated, troubled individuals that they can use your outlets to regain social capital through death dealing.
- Focus more on the victims, not as tragic deaths, but as humans who will be remembered for who they were. Reinforce that their memory will live on, the memory of who they were when alive. Revisit those lives more than you revisit the names and faces of the perpetrators.
- Use the same rhetoric for the same type of events, regardless of ethnicity or religion of the perpetrator. If you use “mayhem” for a black perpetrator, use “mayhem” for a white perpetrator of the same crime. If you name a person’s religion as “Muslim” when they’re Muslim, name the person’s religion as “Christian” when they’re Christian.
- Call it “terrorism” every time it’s a confirmed terrorist act. If a Muslim does it. If a Christian does it. If a black man does it. If a white man does it. If a soldier does it. If an old lady with fifteen cats does it. If someone unlawfully uses violence and intimidation, especially against civilians, and makes any statement that is political in nature in connection with the act, call it an act of terrorism.
- Entertainment industry: Stop perpetuating stereotypes of of lower class people. Stop perpetuating the stereotype of poor rural whites as stupid, gun-obsessed inbred, and subhuman. This only further alienates frustrated white males, and validates their feelings of isolation and victimization. Continue to provide examples for young black men like Luke Cage, Black Panther, Black Lightning, and other action heroes who are strong, confident, charismatic, and do not have to carry a gun or fear the police.
- Hollywood: Cease making films in which heroes are glorified for using weapons to become vigilantes without any negative consequences. Depict the real consequences of violence, particularly on the psyche. Depict male heroes as vulnerable, emotional, broken, afraid. Depict heroes as facing these truths about themselves as part of their heroism, rather than being a hero by doing the impossible and pretending the struggle has no effect on their psyche.
- Music industry: Hip hop and rap artists, your lyrics are powerful. Put as much focus on your anger against violence within an ethnic group as you do on “police-on-black” violence. Stop promoting gang violence. Raise up Martin Luther King Junior. Stop celebrating dead cops. But continue to critique police corruption and police-on-black crime.
- Pornographers: If you can’t cease distributing pornography, at the very least least stop producing “revenge porn,” “torture porn,” and pornography that depicts actors pretending to be sexually victimized.
- Sign off the air. Permanently.
Weapons Manufacturers and Distributors
- When a pattern develops of mass shooting perpetrators using a specific type of gun, stop manufacturing and selling that gun.
- Collect data on gun trafficking. Cooperate with law enforcement to stop illegal gun sales.
- Develop better owner-recognition technology and incorporate it into your products. Offer trade-in incentives where customers can trade in their old guns for safer ones.
- Sell locks and safes alongside your weapons. Provide deals where a gun can be bought cheaper along with a safe.
- Stop selling large-capacity magazines.
- Cease all marketing focused on how lethal your products are.
- Don’t let anyone under 21 rehearse kill scenarios with you.
- Cease all propaganda implying that if you fear the government is going to threaten you that you should strategically act first.
- Disassociate from contact with any groups that blame society’s problems on isolated groups of individuals. Train all members of your militia to accept that they are responsible for their own actions, and those actions have consequences they will have to live with the rest of their lives.
- Get over yourselves. You are not the last bastion between anything and anyone.
- Unless you can spend more time in community with other people than with your militia buddies, disband immediately.
Bars and Pubs
- Ban firearms at your locations. The purpose of your establishment is to provide an addictive substance that gradually reduces a human’s ability to think rationally and control their emotions. If it helps, arm your bouncers to help drinkers feel safe from those entering with the intent to kill.
- Preach and teach Jesus the King, born, crucified, raised up, reigning.
- Make disciples of The Way.
- Stop spreading the untenable thesis that school violence is chiefly due to “God being taken out of schools,” as a) God is not a substance that can be removed from places, b) religious activity still occurs in public schools all the time, including prayer, c) If God were in schools in ages past, they would not have been segregated, and d) Plenty of countries with even less religious activity in public schools experience far less school violence than the U.S.
- Refuse to lift up the U.S. Constitution, especially the 2nd Amendment, as “inspired of God,” or “sacred.”
- Throw off nationalism, if you have not already done so.
- Get out of your comfort zone and connect with people.
- Begin or continue a ministry centered on one or more of the following: inner city, prisons, children’s homes, project housing, college campuses.
- Cease moving your places of worship from “rough parts of town” to gated communities.
- Refuse to hire ministers whose sermons consist mostly of hostility and blame towards other groups of people for what’s wrong with the world.
- Refuse to endorse or participate in such events as a “Bring Your Gun to Church Day.”
- Abandon 5-point Calvinism, which teaches individuals that they are not at all responsible for their own decisions. Refuse to pay the salaries of preachers who continue this heinous doctrine.
- Send your young men and women on missions to less safe parts of the country and world. Let them feel trusted and valued for taking these risks in the name of something greater than themselves for those who love them.
- Be sure you are greeting people when they visit your church. Be sure those greetings are beyond superficial and merely assigned to “ushers.” Follow up with visitors after they visit.
- No matter what security measures you take, make sure your church presents itself as a welcome place to everyone.
- Talk with seasoned leaders in your church about being prepared to tackle and overwhelm an intruder intend on violence. Do not assume that use of firearms is the only option.
- If you choose to post armed church members around the building, emphasize that whereas a killer’s goal would be to kill as many people as possible, all a responder needs to do is stop the killer. Lethal force is not necessary to stop a threat.
- Train your ministry leaders in counseling skills that help them identify and help get treatment for mental illness and anger issues.
- Lead the way in what it looks like to transform swords into ploughshares.
- Extend thoughts and prayers. Whether you tell everyone you’re doing it or not.