Gun violence is a systemic public health issue.

People are forced to live in fear. Fear of going to worship. Fear of going to School. Fear of going to work. Gun lobbies and corrupt politicians on both sides of the aisle have allowed us to live in fear for too long. We must pass legislation that protects people from gun violence.

My vision of how to stop  gun violence approaches the issue in three important ways:

Universal National Licensing

Passing universal background checks would be a good start, but does not do enough. The average background check takes only 108 seconds. That is not enough time to determine the mental health condition of a purchaser, or to assess the intention of the buyer. That is why we must pass a system of comprehensive universal licensing. This system would mandate that applicants take a firearms safety course, submit a permit application through their local police department where they directly check local law enforcement and mental health agencies, contact references, and run your fingerprints. This process could take up to five weeks. Additionally, different licenses must be acquired for every classification of firearm, including hunting rifles and shotguns. Licenses will also need to be periodically renewed which helps law enforcement confirm the eligibility of gun owners.

Licensing systems have already decreased gun violence in states that have implemented them. When Connecticut passed a licensing law, its firearm homicide rate decreased by 40% and its firearm suicide rate decreased by 15%. Licensing works and keeps guns out of the hands of people who are a danger to themselves and others.

Limiting who gets what

We must take steps to limit what types of weapons and attachments are available. We need to ban all assault weapons, high-capacity magazines and any other military grade weaponry. There is no reason for civilians to be in possession of weapons of war. Assault weapons belong on the battlefield, not in our streets.

We must extend existing law and new legislation to the sale of guns everywhere and close the gun show loophole.

We must also take measures to protect people from gun owners who have malice intentions. This includes requiring domestic abusers and stalkers to surrender their firearms. Nearly 1,000 Americans are shot to death by current or former partners. Federal laws attempting to block domestic abusers from purchasing guns consistently fail because of a loophole (Intimate partner gap), that allows abusers to obtain firearms so long as they do not live with, or have a child with the victim of abuse. Forcing convicted abusers or stalkers to surrender firearms and barring them from acquiring a universal license can and will prevent innocent people from dying.

Additionally, we must create a Federal Red Flag law that allows individuals and mental health professionals to petition for the removal of firearms from those who are a danger to themselves and others. Firearm suicide claims the lives of 22,000 Americans each year. Creating a system that allows the removal of these weapons from the hands of at risk individuals will save lives.

Understanding the issue 

We must divert Federal funds to studying gun violence as a public health issue and understanding the best ways to address it.  This starts with repealing the Dickey Amendment, that prevents the CDC from studying the traumatic impact of gun violence in communities. Allowing and funding the CDC to study the psychological impact of gun violence on our communities is an important step to solving the crisis.

We must also provide, through Medicare for All, each and every person with access to comprehensive mental healthcare. Gun related suicide accounts for 60% of all gun deaths. Addressing this reality by providing mental healthcare resources is only the first step. Creating community outreach programs that raise awareness of the risks present with untreated mental health issues and encouraging communities to seek help, are effective tools to combating gun deaths.

 

No one deserves to live in fear of loosing their life or the life of a loved one to gun violence or gun related suicide. The time to address gun reform is long overdue, and we need it now. No longer can we wait for legislators to do the right thing. They have failed us. On day one in Congress, I will work to pass comprehensive gun reform and end the trauma of gun violence in our communities.