• Robb Ryerse

What Can Be Done about Gun Violence in America?

Parents all over America are wondering if it’s safe to send their children to school today. They want a society in which our kids can go to class or the movies without having to worry that they will be gunned down. As a country, we have endured senseless tragedy after senseless tragedy. And in response, our elected officials offer their thoughts and prayers but not their actions. They can’t risk upsetting their special interest donors by doing what the vast majority of Americans expect them to do – take the steps necessary to build a safer society.

As a political candidate, I didn’t take money from any corporate donors or special interest groups. Therefore, I can speak honestly and forthrightly about what needs to be done to address the plague of school shootings and gun violence in America. We don’t have to feel powerless. There are things that can be done. We can take the following steps.

Here is my plan to meaningfully address gun violence in America:

Common Sense Gun Laws

The vast majority of American are unified in their belief that we can preserve our 2nd Amendment rights while also enacting common sense gun laws. Congress needs to act immediately in banning automatic and semi-automatic weapons, closing loopholes that allow guns to purchased at shows and online, banning bump stocks, and establishing a national permit to purchase program that includes effective background checks. None of these reforms infringe on any law-abiding citizen’s ability to own a gun, but they do reduce the likelihood that the wrong types of weapons get into the hands of the wrong kinds of people.

Comprehensive Threat Assessment in Every School in America

Experts agree that when schools conduct a comprehensive threat assessment, they are better prepared to identify and respond to potentially tragic situations. The Department of Education needs to create a template for a Comprehensive Threat Assessment that must be conducted in every school in America before the beginning of the next school year. Ensuring the safety of our children needs to be the single top priority of every school board in America, and through the Department of Education, they need to have the resources necessary to make student safety the top priority.

Study the Links between Gun Violence, Mental Illness, and Adolescent Medication

Whenever a mass shooting takes place in America, much of the ensuing conversation revolves around whether or not the shooter was mentally ill. Often this discussion is used to deflect attention from other needed action, like common sense gun law reform. However, it is incumbent upon us to establish clearly whether or not there is a link between mental illness and mass shootings or between school shootings and adolescent use of certain medications. The President needs to establish an independent blue-ribbon commission to conduct this study, and then Congress needs to implement its recommendations.

Explore Liability Insurance for Gun Owners

The law requires citizens to purchase insurance when they become owners of homes and motor vehicles. When people have such insurance, they are incentivized by insurance companies to get lower rates in exchange for freely choosing to enact certain behaviors, such as maintaining a perfect driving record or installing a home security system. If gun owners were required to purchase liability insurance, they too would have a financial incentive to enact greater safety procedures in their homes, thus reducing the risk of both accidental and intentional gun violence.

National Dialog about the Myth of Redemptive Violence

We need a national conversation about what we believe about violence. For too long, we’ve glorified violence in our entertainment and have told ourselves formative narratives that reinforce the myth of redemptive violence, which is that the only way to overcome violence is through great, more overwhelming violence. Unfortunately, our politicians often reinforce this narrative in their rhetoric. From kitchen tables to boardrooms, from classrooms to legislative chambers, we need to talk realistically and honestly about the role we want violence to play in our society. Perhaps this dialog can be enhanced by an Ad Council campaign that seeks to reframe the conversation, as has been successful with texting and driving, recycling, and other issues.

Campaign Finance Reform

Ultimately, every issue in the current American political climate is a financial one. Our elected officials can’t be trusted to put the needs of people first because they are beholden to the corporations and special interest groups that fund their campaigns. We won’t have leadership willing to take these necessary steps until we elect leaders who do not take money from the gun industry, the pharmaceutical industry, and their lobbyists.

Any American, including you, who is concerned about gun violence in our society can immediately donate to and volunteer for candidates who refuse corporate and SuperPAC donations, knowing that the likelihood of these issues being addressed goes up when we elect representatives who will serve the people first.

We are not doomed to a future of escalating tragedy. We can preserve our freedoms while also increasing our security. What we need to do is support and elect leaders who will put the needs of people first by taking the steps necessary to reduce gun violence in America.

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