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COMMENTARY

Donald Morrison: Tired of gun deaths? Here are 21 ideas to try

I’m tired. Of school shootings, supermarket shootings, church shootings, mosque shootings, nightclub shootings, gang shootings, spousal shootings, accidental shootings, all shootings.

I’m tired of specious arguments about why they’re unavoidable, unpredictable, unpreventable. I’m tired of living in the only country in the world with this problem.

I’m tired of nothing ever getting done about it, even though it kills more Americans — 45,000 last year — than car crashes and is closing in on kidney disease.

Oddly enough, gun violence is a problem that happens to have some specific solutions — some better than others but all worth considering. Here are 21 of them, plus a bonus idea more powerful than any:

1. Tougher federal background checks, a measure Congress will take up in the wake of this week’s massacre in Uvalde, Texas, that killed 19 children and two adults.

2. An end to the “Charleston loophole,” named after a 2015 church shooting in that South Carolina town. The legal quirk allows buyers get their hands on guns if a background check has not been completed within three days — an issue Congress will address.

3. Closing the “gun-show loophole,” which allows many people who buy guns from private sellers, typically online or at gun shows, to escape background checks.

4. An increase in the minimum age for all gun purchasers to 21 years. Currently, kids as young as 18 can get gunned-up through a private sale.

5. Tougher gun storage rules, for both individuals and retailers. As many as half of all weapons used in crimes are stolen.

6. Mandatory liability insurance for firearms, much like the polices we require for cars, trucks and motorcycles. Right now, gun owners essentially get a free ride while we pay the bill.

7. Mandatory loss-tracing and anti-theft devices on guns, using the kind of technology that lets you find — and even disable — your mobile phone if it goes missing.

8. A ban on gun sales to persons guilty of violent felonies, domestic abuse or hate crimes. These folks commit an outsize number of weapons-related offenses.

9. A national “red flag” law that allows authorities to take guns away from people considered, by family members or school officials, to be a danger to themselves or others.

10. A crackdown on ghost guns, those untraceable weapons you can make at home with a commercial kit or a 3D printer.

11. License requirements for purchasing ammunition and limits on the number of rounds that can be bought by an individual in a given period of time.

12. A ban on making “straw purchases” of guns for somebody who’s prohibited from buying them.

13. Limits on the number of firearms an individual can buy in a single month, which could help curb gun trafficking.

14. Mandatory trigger locks, which would prevent your kids from killing themselves and their friends with your gun.

15. Requiring a fingerprint ID or a PIN number to enable a weapon. If you need a code to access your Netflix account, you should need one to shoot somebody.

16. A ban on high-capacity magazines, which are used in many, if not most, mass shootings.

17. Renewal of the expired 1994 ban on military-style rifles, like the AR-15, which are used in many, if not most, mass shootings. The ban lowered gun deaths.

18. An end to the gun industry’s highly unusual exemption from liability for the harm their products cause.

19. Federal safety standards for firearms, which are currently among the few dangerous products that don’t have any.

20. An increase in the 10 percent federal excise tax on firearms and the 11 percent tax on ammunition, with proceeds going to gun violence research.

21. A boost in overall federal funding for gun violence research, which was virtually eliminated by Congress in 1996 at the urging of the Nation Rifle Association.

None of these ideas is new. Most of them have broad public support, according to polls. All of them would help limit the number of guns in circulation, which correlates directly with the number of gun deaths.

But somehow, those solutions never get adopted. That’s largely because one of our political parties, the one that gets nearly all the NRA’s millions in campaign contributions, consistently prevents those ideas from becoming law.

Which leads us to the single measure that would do more than anything to help end our national bloodbath: a total, immediate, nationwide ban on … Republicans.

There are plenty of ways to reduce gun violence. But only after every gun-loving, excuse-making, base-pandering member of that once grand old party is driven from public office will this curse be truly lifted.

We’ve tried banning guns. We’ve failed. Now it’s time to ban the people most responsible for that failure. I’m not kidding. I’m tired.

Donald Morrison is an Eagle columnist and co-chairman of the advisory board. The opinions expressed by columnists do not necessarily reflect the views of The Berkshire Eagle.

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