Columns, Opinion

Lessons from the Left: The solution to the gun problem

There was another mass shooting on Valentine’s Day of 2018. This time, the victims were high school students and staff, and the perpetrator was a former student who trained with a white nationalist militia group. Seventeen people died — two of them teachers shielding kids with their bodies — and 14 were wounded, including a boy named Anthony Borges who took five bullets while locking a door. I could go on about the details, but I’ll save you the trouble.

I don’t want to say that nothing will change, because I’m unusually hopeful after this particular shooting thanks to its unrelenting teen survivors. But this time, I do think it’s going to take an awful amount of time, energy and effort before something tangible comes to fruition. Admittedly, there have been some efforts — on the part of the White House and the Florida State House — to regulate guns, but the latter voted down an assault weapons ban and we certainly can’t count on the former for civility, let alone action.

However, there is an interesting solution that’s come to my attention, a solution you may have heard about if you’ve watched Chris Rock’s stand-up or seen the eighth season of “West Wing.” It’s one that seems silly, but one that — once fleshed out with evidence — is kind of brilliant. I’m talking about regulating bullets and ammunition.

The initial appeal of regulating bullets lies in how it treats the constitutional issue that crops up in regular gun control debates, that is, banning or restricting guns is unconstitutional and thus completely disallowed. The Second Amendment reads: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” “Arms” usually refers to firearms, rifles, handguns and muskets to a great deal of people, but it’s not entirely intuitive that should include bullets and ammo. It’s a much grayer area constitutionally, but maybe the argument that could hold up in court. I mean, it’s held up in places like California and Connecticut, which regulate bullets and have seen death-by-firearm rates plummet in recent years as a result.

Second, we might be able to spot a mass shooting in the works if we’ve got our eyes on bullets. Plenty of people buy guns, and plenty of people buy lots of guns — be it for show, hunting, collections or what have you. Buying upwards of 10,000 rounds, though? I doubt the purchaser will use those to shoot a couple of deer in the woods behind his house. Given we live in the era of the net, spotting something as suspicious as that would be easy, and checking up on the buyer would be even easier.

It’s also worth mentioning that more people support bullet regulations than they do gun regulations — 80 percent compared to just 67 percent.

Now, there are counterarguments I should address. The first has to do with creating a sort of “black market” for bullets. This meaning, if we regulate bullets, we’d force their purchase underground especially because it seems like a bullet would be easy to obtain, hide and reproduce.

The problem with that argument is that the same can be said about guns. In fact, it’s an argument that gets so beat to death that I’m sure you’ve heard it on CNN or from your uncle who posts on Facebook: “People can get ahold of guns if they really want to!” I agree that they can, and even in places like the United Kingdom and Australia — where they have many regulations on guns — shootings still happen. I’ll grant that much.

However, just because gun deaths still happen after firearms are banned or regulated does not mean we ought to abandon everything and run. The shootings that do happen after sweeping legislation are passed are few and far between — Australia has had zero mass shootings since 1996, compared to the United States’ 30-something this year alone. And it’s not like there aren’t examples in the United States. Like I said before, both California and Connecticut moved to regulate ammunition and saw gun homicides decrease exponentially. When Connecticut passed comprehensive gun legislation after Sandy Hook, gun deaths fell from 226 in 2012 to 164 in 2016.

Sure, regulating bullets won’t rid the country of gun deaths for good, but it will help. In the wake of a school shooting that not only claimed 17 lives but also stole the innocence away from the 3,000 students that got up and went to school like they would any other day, we owe it to the future of our country.


One Comment

  1. Jess Halperin

    “30-something this year”? You’re kidding right? First, show your source for that number. Second, if there were 30 within two months, it would be borderline a war zone. Please refrain from spitting false statistics from now on.

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