The murders of at least 14 people in San Bernardino unleashed familiar arguments this week about mass shootings in America.
Advocates of strict gun control reissued their calls for stronger background checks while belittling Congress for its inaction. Strong believers in the Second Amendment sharply criticized that approach and vowed to battle back against it. The suspects’ mental health, ethnicity and religion were tossed into the fray, as the media picked at preliminary facts — and probed disparate theories — to try to explain why yet another mass shooting had occurred and how this country could prevent more of them in the future.
We’ve certainly offered our strong editorial backing for improved mental health programs in the United States as well as tighter background checks as steps toward reducing mass shootings and creating a safer nation.
But rather than scratch our heads again, roll out the same answers and hope for a different outcome, let’s go beyond the sound-bite wars.
Today, The Star’s editorial board would like to turn the tables and ask readers for their best suggestions on how to reduce gun violence in America. Call it a request for proposals, especially from people who have thought deeply about this problem for years.
And we’ll start with those who might not like us that much based on some of our editorial positions — gun owners who have been long active in promoting sensible ways to sell and use their weapons. We want to hear from you.
Mental health experts are invited to weigh in; so many shooters have had problems that alienated them from society.
We expect that experts in criminology, religion and other fields have given this matter a great deal of thought and can offer some ways to reduce mass shootings, which are a particularly American woe.
Politicians and public officials — mayors, members of Congress, presidential contenders — offered “thoughts and prayers” on Wednesday. But we’d like to hear from some in the political arena — Republicans and Democrats — who can go beyond that and provide practical solutions.
All of these people, of differing expertise, could be instrumental in getting something positive accomplished.
On Thursday, President Barack Obama called on Americans not to feel helpless about the prevalence of gun violence and that “we all have a part to play” in ending it.
Do your part. Send your suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org, with “Shootings” in the subject field. Keep them succinct; 200 words or fewer would be best. All, if chosen for publication, are subject to editing. Deadline is 6 p.m. on Dec. 8.
We’ll print the best offerings on The Star’s Opinion page in the near future. But we won’t wait too long. As history shows, mass shootings occur all too often in the United States. Let’s get the discussion going about practical ways to slow them down.