What action steps can the American people and the government take to eliminate gun violence in the United States? Harold Pollack, a professor of Social Service Administration and Public Health Sciences at the University of Chicago, proposes three elements to help prevent the issue of gun violence: controlling military-style weapons, regulation of gun purchases by people under 25 years of age, and more severe punishments for illegal gun carrying. Pollack emphasizes the fact that dangerous individuals should be the main focus of the government as a first step in controlling this issue. In addition, stricter laws and regulations can definitely help prevent weapons from being in the wrong hands, which will ensure a safer environment.
Military style weapons account for a small proportion of gun deaths and are less commonly used than handguns. Handguns still remain the most commonly used weapon in routine gun violence and homicides. Mass shootings, however, are more commonly associated with military weapons and gear such as rifles, body armor, and suppressors. The government could enforce stricter laws on businesses that sell military weaponry. Pollack states the Supreme Court is open to new ideas and changes to the regulation of assault weapons. Those opposing such changes include gun manufacturers and those businesses that sell guns, whom are represented by the National Rifle Association.
According to Pollack, 8.9 percent of American adults experience impulsive anger symptoms and have guns in their homes. Although there are laws that prohibit felons and mentally ill people from legally having a gun, it is hard to identify dangerous individuals at first sight. Tightening regulations of gun purchases by anyone would make a change, but Pollack argues that those younger than 25 years old should be especially watched because it is harder to tell whether they may suffer from mental illnesses. In addition, they can be tracked later down the line in case they commit any crimes, which would prevent them from purchasing a gun in the near future.
Further, states with fewer regulations on gun possession tend to export guns to other states, which increases the risk for gun violence and crime. Pollack also writes about Gun Violence Restraining Orders, which can help to monitor those who are mentally ill or troubled. Gun offenders don’t often purchase their weapons through the underground market which is heavily available to them, instead they buy from people they can trust. The government can take advantage of this fact and take action to deter illegal gun transfers and interstate trafficking.
Harold Pollack, “What Can We Do About Gun Violence,” The American Prospect. March 16, 2016, http://prospect.org/article/what-we-can-do-about-gun-violence
Student Researcher: Marius Manding (Diablo Valley College)
Faculty Evaluator: Mickey Huff (Diablo Valley College)