We were not the only ones stunned by the pictures of 20 recently-murdered six- and seven-year-olds and six adults, which appeared on our television screens last month. We were not the only ones silently imagining the horror that took place in Sandy Hook Elementary School when a disturbed young man took up a weapon and killed for inexplicable reasons. We were not the only ones looking for an appropriate response to this tragedy.
The nation reeled from the news this December. And then its people discussed what to do about it.
Vice President Joe Biden and some cabinet members are now considering reinstating the Federal Assault Weapons Ban, which passed through Congress in 1994 but expired due to its sunset clause in 2004. The ban prohibits manufacture of some semi-automatic firearms for civilian use.
Previous attempts to reinstate the ban have not made it to the house floor, simply because they have not garnered adequate support. However, because of the prolific nature of recent shootings, including the most recent tragedy at Sandy Hook that involved the fatal shooting of 20 children and six adults at the elementary school, the ban may gain momentum for another term.
Although this could be — if passed — a step in the right direction, it may not be enough. Some congressmen and congresswomen said it did not affect crime rates in the slightest.
It may also not be the most correct, or best solution on the table for curbing violence through gun control. There is also the option of a national database for guns. A detailed registry like the one proposed by the vice president and others may not have been feasible just 10 years ago, but with modern technology it has become an even more salient option to help curb gun violence in the United States.
What has not made a large appearance in national dialogue as of yet, or seen any promise of turnaround, is an idea expounded by Kurt Eichenwald of Vanity Fair. Eichenwald suggested requiring insurance of firearms because, as he wrote on Jan. 3, “unlike government, the one thing insurance companies know how to do is assess risk.”
Pursuing this option would be beneficial because it does not require additional government enforcement and essentially privatizes gun regulation. Insurance companies would benefit financially from regulating whom they decide to insure— and more importantly whom they decide not to insure. This policy would hopefully more efficiently regulate firearms in a way that the government is not currently able to. In addition, this plan would probably spur the economy more than any other plan put forth thus far.
Gun control regulation is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to preventing a future Sandy Hook. But it’s a start, and there are fresh ideas on the table. Let’s not ignore them—however unachievable they seem.