With two mass shootings in as many weeks, it seems as though the conversation about gun control legislation and real policy reform is back in the collective consciousness. Yet in the national debate around gun reform, it seems like we are on a never-ending merry-go-round where the powers that be just won’t budge.
Following the tragedies in Atlanta and Boulder over the last two weeks, there’s a national conversation around what needs to happen to finally move the needle on the country’s gun violence epidemic. One area that could spur real and meaningful change is the implementation of red flag gun laws. But does the political will exist for substantial reform on guns?
Listen: On the heels of the shootings in Atlanta and Boulder, are we finally ready as a nation to do something about gun violence?
Robyn Thomas is the Executive Director of the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. As far legislative opportunities for lawmakers, Thomas says extreme risk protective orders are one viable option. “[It] would’ve been a perfect opportunity to remove guns from the Parkland shooter … it raises interesting questions about due process. We have to approach taking away someone’s property through due process,” she notes.
As far as the role of firearms in self harm and suicide, Thomas says that we as a society need to unlearn some of our old misconceptions. ”The knee-jerk response is that you can’t prevent someone from harming themselves if they want to … and it turns out that’s really not true. Almost 70 percent of people who try to harm themselves do it within the first hour of ideation,” says Thomas.
“We know that there’s not one law that will stop all gun violence … it’s a complex issue that requires us to take comprehensive solutions if we are going to reduce gun violence in a meaningful way.” —Robyn Thomas, Executive Director of the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence
She says it’s also important to recognize the ways that the National Rifle Association’s role in the national gun law debate has evolved. “As much as [the NRA] are on their heels … they are not out for the count. … They’ve been around a long time … and they are aggressive and have single-issue voters,” says Thomas, who adds that this collective conversation around gun law reform is nuanced and determination is key in driving the issue forward. “We know that there’s not one law that will stop all gun violence … it’s a complex issue that requires us to take comprehensive solutions if we are going to reduce gun violence in a meaningful way,” she says.
Emily Durbin is chapter leader of the Michigan Chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. She says that ”we need to be talking about and focusing on how gun violence in Michigan erodes our safety and sense of security. Laws are one way we can make our state safer but it’s not the only way.”
Durbin echoes Thomas’ sentiments on the evolving role and dwindling influence of the gun lobby and the NRA. ”Many gun owners say they no longer identify with the values of the gun lobby … this isn’t a gun owner versus non-gun owner debate … this is about all Americans coming together to come up with solutions,” she says.