Atlanta. Boulder. Indianapolis. These cities have faced mass shootings that might have been avoided if the government focused more on getting help to those with mental health challenges and prioritizing preventative policies.
Many mass shootings could have been avoided if we instead put more resources toward mental health programs for people who need them. Families should have the resources to help those experiencing mental health challenges, and with the government’s financial backing, families are more likely to get the help they need.
Syracuse and New York state residents are luckier than most when it comes to gun violence prevention policy. In 2019, New York instituted its red flag law, which effectively takes away guns and prevents the purchase of guns from people who pose a threat to themselves or others. But though these red flag laws are a step in the right direction, mass shootings nationwide have shown that they are not enough.
The gunman responsible for the shooting in Indianapolis on April 15 had exhibited signs of distress that made his mother alert the police, who seized his shotgun in March 2020. Under Indiana’s red flag laws, someone can alert police officers that a person has exhibited signs of distress, and police can temporarily take away their weapons. But the law was not used against Hole after police seized his firearm, enabling him to purchase more weapons before killing eight people at a FedEx facility, IndyStar reported.
The Biden administration recently announced that one of its six objectives regarding gun control legislation would be to publish model red flag legislation for the states to follow and to incentivize states to pass red flag laws. But the administration should not just be incentivizing states to pass this legislation. It should also ensure that states enforce it.
While red flag laws vary by state, most states with them only allow police officers and household members to start the court process that takes away a person’s weapons. Some allow coworkers, health care workers and school personnel to do so as well. In Syracuse, a district attorney, police officer, school official or family member of the person in question can start a petition.
After someone is flagged by a family member, teacher, counselor or police officer and is ordered by court not to be allowed any weapons, further measures should be taken to ensure that person is not able to obtain another and getting the help that they need instead.
Another part of Biden’s plan that may be more effective is his investment in evidence-based community violence interventions. By investing $5 billion into programs aimed at addressing violence, communities can hopefully curb the problem before a mass shooting occurs.
Expanded background checks could be another way to flag dangerous behavior. While some people believe that increasing background checks are useless because people can and will find an illegal way to purchase a weapon if they so desire, background checks are useful for other reasons.
If a person receives a background check and does not pass, revealing a criminal record or prior restraining orders, they could be subjected to a more thorough check and speak with a professional before they are cleared to purchase the weapon.
While there is no easy solution to gun violence, simply limiting what guns people can buy will not do much to solve the problem. It takes going to the core of the issue and helping prevent the person from becoming violent in the first place.
Skylar Swart is a sophomore political science major. Her column appears biweekly. She can be reached at email@example.com. She can be followed on Twitter at @SkylarSwart.
Published on April 26, 2021 at 12:06 am