Thursday, May 12, 2016

Stopping Gun Violence: Time to get effective ....

If people really want to put a stop to gun violence, they'll need to do the unthinkable: learn from the National Rifle Association (NRA).

"Sha’Quille Kornegay shot herself with
a 9-millimeter handgun she found while
staying at her father’s house."
(Photo: Haven Parrish, Jr.)
I was struck by the coincidence of the obituary of the creator of the famous sculpture of a gun with a knotted barrel (Carl Frederik Reutersward, below), with a heartbreaking story on toddlers dying in gun accidents.

Now today I see that George Zimmerman is making headlines auctioning off the gun he used to murder Trayvon Martin.

The US is a country addicted to violence; violence defines our domestic lives and our foreign affairs. Certainly the long-term solution that is needed is a wholesale turn to nonviolence. (See Campaign Nonviolence.)

A medium term solution lies, in my opinion, in the public health approach of groups such as Cure Violence: to try to get more and more people to stop and think in between the urge to violence and the actual act of violence.

Carl Fredrik Reutersward and "Non-Violence" sculpture
The short term solution, though, is clearly gun safety and gun control. The best advice I've heard on how to get to a solution in the short term came from Capitol Hill.

It was spring, 2014, and I had gone to the Hart Senate Office Building together with six other faith activists to meet with our senators' and representatives' staff. The issue we were there to talk about was gun safety and gun control, and the meetings were to give thanks where thanks were due, and also to urge greater efforts in the days ahead.

In one office, we said, "We know the Senator is consistently with us on gun safety and gun control. Thank you for that. Now tell us: what will it take for him to build more support for gun control with others in Congress."

"The best thing you could possibly do," said the staffer, "is realize how effective the NRA is at getting constituents to send targeted communications to their elected representatives. They focus on the right piece of legislation at the exactly the right moment, and they make sure large numbers of constituents are communicating directly with their representatives and senators with clear messages."

"Your hearts are in the right place," he added. "But you have to be more effective than the NRA."

I realized then and there that all the good intentions in the world won't get the job done unless we are organized. To reach our gun safety and gun control goals, we need skilled coordination to help us:

* focus on the right legislation
* act at the right time
* mobilize constituents
* communicate clearly and convincingly

To be effective at stopping gun violence, find an effective group and commit your time, energy, skills, and money. One place to start is Everytown for Gun Safety.

Related posts

A virus is able to be so successful precisely because it (most of the time) doesn't kill its host. I can't help thinking that we simply are not being intelligent about how to respond to violence.   How might recognizing the "viral" nature of violence help us to respond to it more intelligently?

(See Violence: Taking Over Like a Virus)

The United States is like that alcoholic family member, for whom every circumstance is an excuse to hit the bottle. Except, with the US, the bottle is violence.

(See It's Time for the United States to Stop Hitting the Bottle)

There are some people, at least, who see a very clear connection between violence on the streets of cities like Chicago and violence carried out by the U.S. military, the CIA, and other U.S. government agencies around the world.

(See Time for Ceasefire? Barack Obama and Speaking About Violence )

There are all kinds of efforts to change the way policing is done in Chicago, and how it gets managed. These efforts mirror those being made in cities nationwide. I support those efforts, and am committed to working on them until we accomplish sweeping change. But sweeping change will take time . . . .

(See Disarm the CPD)

It's way too easy to launch U.S. missiles. (Maybe if it were a little more costly, challenging, or painful to carry out these attacks, they would at least require someone to give an explanation that makes sense first.)

(See AMERICANS: Happy As Long As They're Blowing Something Up )

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