8 Concrete Ideas on Gun Reform from Brian Frydenborg

Ideas by Brian Frydenborg, now a Democratic Party candidate for U.S. Senate For Maryland, excerpted from one of his spring 2013 article

Excerpted from Gun Violence in the U.S.: The Numbers Behind the Madness, Real Context News

It is the job of the policymaker to ask, “What are realistically possible actions which can do the most to bring down the number of gun-related deaths?” Sadly, the real answers to this problem are generally absent from the national discussion, though not entirely.

Let us break down some lessons that can be drawn from the data examined above.

1.) Handguns are the real problem. Assault weapons are certainly a major factor in mass shootings, but kill only a tiny fraction of gun victims in the U.S. each year. And even in mass shootings, handguns are a major factor. We know at least 72.5% of documented gun murders in the U.S. come from handguns. Legislating against assault rifles may be necessary and may help to reduce mass shootings’ lethality and frequency, but such action will not make much of a difference in the overall murder rates or save anywhere near as many lives as dealing with handguns would. And of late more and more gun control advocates and legislators are talking about finding ways to reduce the capacity of high-capacity gun magazines—affecting how many bullets can be fired before reloading—as opposed to banning certain types of weapons.

2.) Gun violence victims are overwhelmingly male, and, in respect to their proportion of the overall population, overwhelmingly black. These crimes are overwhelmingly so-called “black-on-black” crime. Yet most murder victims in the U.S. are killed by members of their own race, a phenomenon that needs to be examined further. There are a variety of contentious factors that contribute to this sad fact, but the numbers are indisputable. White and black murders account for about 94% all U.S. murders, and factoring out black murder victims would lower the U.S. gun murder rate by more than half, but it would still be over twice the average for nearly thirty other developed countries. Still, the problems of the black community are clearly significantly tied to the issue of gun violence. Addressing the plight of blacks in the U.S. would make a huge difference, then, in overall U.S. gun violence.

3.) Gun violence overwhelmingly occurs at a higher rate in urban vs. rural environments. Thus, when considering national-level legislation, some regard for different tiers of laws for rural vs. urban areas should be considered. In particular…

4.) How guns move from one location to another to be part of crimes must be examined and dealt with, both across state and international borders, and from rural to urban locations as well. A hunter’s right to enjoy hunting in the countryside must be balanced by the fact that making it too easy for people to buy guns in the countryside has contributed to more deaths in urban environments when the weapons end up there.

5.) Acknowledge suicide is part of the problem, a big part. People—in this case, mainly white men living in rural areas—die far more at their own hands than from being shot by someone threatening them. That there are more gun suicides than murders cannot be ignored. Any serious effort at stemming gun violence needs to factor in how to deal with suicide also. While self-inflicted wounds are not thought of as violence in the traditional sense, these deaths mean that guns killing people is not just a major problem in urban areas, even if these people are killing themselves and not others.

6.) More so than the urban-rural divide, poverty, inequality, and weak social structures/institutions contribute to gun violence. The lesson here is simple: there is no silver bullet. A city like Detroit of Chicago’s South Side will never have their gun violence problems solved by one or two policies. When gun violence is tied to poverty, inequality, education, structures and historical issues concerning race, a comprehensive approach is necessary.

7.) Resourcing is certainly an issue. Our analysis of the Department of Justice’s resource allocation showed that drug-related activity received 233.4% more funding over firearms-related activity even though drugs only killed 27.5% more people according to available data. Clearly, a more balanced approach or would make a difference in favor of reducing gun violence. This is related to the gun economy…

8.) How guns are sold is a crucial aspect of gun violence. If somewhere around 85% of gun dealers are being responsible, a large amount of additional resources directed at the other 15%, and especially the 1.2% that are responsible for over 57% of crime guns seized by authorities, would make an astronomical difference. I will not even discuss closing the gun show loophole because that is so painfully obvious a step to take that there is nothing more that needs to be said on that subject. There needs to be tracking of the worst offenders among the gun dealers, and with 1.2% being particularly bad, any effort regarding them would have great “bang for the buck.”

All of these recommendations and issues to explore are not going to be insurmountable challenges, nor will they be easy projects. Sure, some laws will have to be changed, fights will erupt, and traditional views must evolve in a society that hopes to be serious about its problems instead of just paying lip service to them. But the data is clear: focus meaningfully on a few key areas to make a major difference now, or the blood of future gun victims will be on all of our hands.