Joel Watts: First Answer
Link to the Question
What are the three most important actions that should be taken in this country to deal with violent crime in public places?
The issue of violent crime is a social issue, so it must be handled in a communal fashion. One of the largest factors in promoting inaction in response to violent crime is the neurosis of individuality. I do not propose this as an action or step; however, we must recognize the role our focus on individuality against community have in our reactions to these events. How often do we hear, after the fact, a community react by saying they had suspected something was going on; yet, no one says anything, or much of anything, because they tend to shy away from seeing all lives in a community dependent upon one another.
One action we can take is first is to look at the way we speak about and address mental health concerns in this country. There is still a stigma attached to various conditions we know are treatable with medication and non-dangerous. Worse yet are the stigmas attached to even seeking mental help. Nationally, we have seen ads run opposing domestic abuse, drunk driving, and a host of other issues that seek to inform public opinion or to destigmatize the reporting of various issues. It would be worthwhile to have a national campaign to destigmatize mental illness, ranging from depression to far deeper issues. Likewise, an increase in funding to mental health facilities is needed. Free screenings could be a part of a national health care plan as well as a mandatory part of employee health care plans. Granted, many plans already include some sort of mental health care, but likewise, these plans must assure the employees of their confidentiality.
A second path forward is one that seeks to prevent the ability to carry out mass violence. Magazines should have their capacities limited. The higher the capacity for damage the lower the capacity of bullets. For example, the AR-15 would be limited to, say three rounds. The .22 pistol will have whatever magazine can fit in the handle without exceeding the handle. Further, all weapons with magazines will need to have added features so that reloading is an involved process. In other words, the magazine cannot be reloaded with a single hand, but must involve both. Also, I would limit the number of weapons a person can own, either by weapon count or magazine capacity count. Perhaps one can own 15 round magazines. A bolt-action rifle with one round magazine will enable a person to own fifteen. Along these same lines, we must close the holes around gun shows and private sellers. Also, I would include a mandatory license for gun owners that one can get only with training. This license will have to provide an option young hunters, however.
There must be a concerted effort to remove all illegal guns from the American populace. Chicago, at the moment, has the highest gun murder rate in the country. I would support the Illinois National Guard (that well-regulated militia provided for by the Constitution) as deputized members of local law enforcement going door to door in the most crime ridden neighborhoods of Chicago and confiscating illegal weapons. It would be beneficial to have a designated day or two to allow all illegal weapons to find their way into the hands of local authorities without penalty or questions asked. This could be replicated on a State-by-State basis so that illegal weapons would be off the streets. These guns would be destroyed within one day of confiscation so as to prevent re-dissemination. Further, the owners of the guns, if they can be identified, will pay a fine unless they could prove that the guns were sold (privately) or stolen and reported to the police. If pawn shops or private gun dealers were found to have sold stolen weapons or allowed stolen weapons to go unreported, they would be fined and their business licenses forfeited.