According to reports in The Post and other outlets, senators are instead focusing on red flag laws that would allow authorities to keep guns away from individuals deemed a threat to themselves or others — not necessarily a federal red flag law but maybe the carrot-and put in place incentives to encourage states to adopt such measures. The senators would also talk about putting more armed security guards in schools and increasing federal funding for mental health services.
It’s not as futile as trying to stop a rhino with a flyswatter, but it’s close.
I am for the red flag laws, which are already in the books in 19 states and DC A CBS News Monday report quoted Montgomery County, Maryland, Sheriff Darren Popkin said his state’s red flag law, used nearly 400 times last year, helped avert a specific threat to a Bethesda high school made by a student. “It’s not a theoretical approach,” Popkin said.
Florida issued nearly 9,000 “emergency hazard protection” orders since enacting its Red Flag Act in 2018, following the Parkland school massacre. But New York, with a similar population and much stricter gun laws, only issues about 500 gun forfeiture orders a year. The gunman accused of the Buffalo massacre last month is said to have shown warning signs of a possible spasm of violence. However, red flag laws not only require family members, friends, acquaintances and others to spot these signs, but also report their concerns – and a judge be persuaded to sign an order. confiscation.
If all states had such laws and aggressively enforced them, lives would surely be saved. But the warning signs are often only recognized as such in retrospect. Is a teenager who begins to dress all in black and listen to Marilyn Manson in crisis? Or are you just going through a goth phase?
Likewise, I am all for spending money to make mental health services more widely available. But only a small fraction of people diagnosed with a mental disorder commit acts of violence, and overworked mental health professionals are short-sighted. Mental health screening and treatment would likely prevent some would-be mass shooters from becoming so detached from reality that they act out apocalyptic fantasies or so depressed that they embrace mass shootings as a form of suicide. But how much?
As for making schools safer, no one can oppose doing everything possible to make school buildings safe spaces. But is a armed security guard stopped the Uvalde massacre? Nineteen police officers trained in bulletproof vests did not have the means to do so. And any society that chooses to turn schools into bunkers and playgrounds into prisons rather than stop gun violence at the source must take a long look in the mirror.
That said, if Senate negotiators come up with anything along those lines that 10 Republican senators will vote for — and that’s a big if — Congress should go ahead and approve it.
This is not a case where half a loaf is better than none; we’re likely to get a few slices, at best. And I believe Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), who has fought so tirelessly for so many years to get meaningful action on gun violence, is overly optimistic when he predicts Republicans will achieve somehow they can be on the right side of this issue and still survive in today’s GOP.
The reality is that they cannot, at least not at the national level. For now, any truly meaningful action on gun violence will likely have to happen in states. Florida got more serious about preventing mass shootings after Parkland. Texas officials and lawmakers must be held accountable after Uvalde.
Since so many firearms used in jurisdictions with strong gun control laws are obtained in states with lax controls, we need comprehensive national legislation. I am convinced that it will happen one day. I shudder to think of the number of victims who still have to die before that day comes.
For now, the only choice is to do something inappropriate or to do nothing at all. We might as well try the former. We know the latter does not work.