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Will a youth movement be the catalyst to make meaningful progress on reducing mass violence? I don’t care where it starts as long as it gets the ball rolling. However, no progress will be made unless a body of common ground is created. The process will commence with intense disagreement, but that will change, I believe. I’m betting a majority will come to agree on most of the following conclusions.

Let’s agree firearm regulation is constitutional. Our Founders’ opinions about firearms reflect a presumption of order and competence achieved though rules, regulations, training and wise firearm controls.

We’ve come to the painful realization unrestricted freedom and mobility aren’t compatible with the highest levels of safety. And we’ve learned mass killings have far different solutions than other homicides. We thought we had a solution in 1990 with passage of The Gun-Free Zones Act of 1990, but it actually made school shooting problems worse.

Contrary to good intentions, gun-free zones are not oases of safety — rather they’re danger zones. Slowly, over the years, one soft target after another added security to reduce gun violence. Schools raced to the top of the list of poorly protected targets — tragedies waiting to happen. Attacks happen fast and are over quickly because there’s typically minimal resistance. It’s possible that deterrence, including more intense, armed school security, may save more lives than new legislation.

Rather than putting the NRA on the defensive, let’s be radical and try bringing the NRA’s training, security and technical knowledge to bear on this problem. It’s fruitless to constantly blame the group. While a prominent participant in politics and lobbying, its reputation doesn’t reflect its activities. In terms of lobbying expenditures, for which it is most scorned, the NRA ranked only 154th on the list of lobbyist spending.

Confiscation of weapons is a pipe dream, so let’s not waste time on that. And why mythologize and single out the AR-15? There are alternatives that are just as lethal, and some more lethal.

We’ve ignored our evolving culture’s contributions to the problem. Moral and behavioral boundaries have moved, sometimes disappeared. The battle over abortion and the definition and sanctity of life reflects a concern the value of life has deteriorated. And rejection of MLK’s legacy of de-emphasizing racial differences has increased society’s polarization. Identity politics and discouraging assimilation are root causes. And we shouldn’t forget those “urban poverty plantations,” hotbeds of hatred, where good intentions have trapped generations of minorities and other underprivileged citizens. These and other things have lowered concern for the lives of others.

It’s obvious there are many ineffective gun laws. Think about all we’ve learned about mistakes in gathering, interpreting and disseminating information necessary to enforce regulations. And we don’t know how to deal with mental illness. Unfortunately, each political extreme has “off limits” ideas they won’t consider. For example, armed security in schools is generally objected to by progressives, and many conservatives avoid compromise on regulating certain weapons. We must set aside these sacred cows.

Too many politicians, and others as well, want quick and easy answers. They are inclined to avoid the heavy lifting necessary to identify useful information on how to reduce mass killings. Any solution will be a combination of repealing ineffective laws, sharpening the enforcement of potentially successful laws and regulations, providing armed security for schools, and passing laws reaching those dark corners of this problem that have never been addressed.

Making a list like this including unpopular ideas must no longer be considered evil. So let’s hope we can reach this common ground or a similar place of reason.

Steve Bakke is a Courier subscriber living in Fort Myers, Fla. He is a retired CPA and commercial finance executive.


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