How to Reduce Shootings

Nicholas Kristof in the New York Times:

ScreenHunter_2883 Nov. 08 22.08If you’re wondering how we managed to crank out all these charts and data in the immediate aftermath of the Texas shooting, here’s the secret: We didn’t. We spent weeks gathering the information and preparing the charts, because we knew that there would be a tragedy like this one to make it all relevant.

That’s the blunt, damning truth: Sunday’s horror was 100 percent predictable. After each such incident, we mourn the deaths and sympathize with the victims, but we do nothing fundamental to reduce our vulnerability.

Some of you will protest, as President Trump did, that it’s too soon to talk about guns, or that it is disrespectful to the dead to use such a tragedy to score political points. Yet more Americans have died from gun violence, including suicides, since 1970 (about 1.4 million) than in all the wars in American history going back to the Revolutionary War (about 1.3 million). And it’s not just gang-members: In a typical year, more pre-schoolers are shot dead in America (about 75) than police officers are.

Yes, making America safer will be hard: There are no perfect solutions. The Second Amendment is one constraint, and so is our polarized political system and the power of the gun lobby. It’s unclear how effective some of my suggestions will be, and in any case this will be a long, uncertain, uphill process.

But automobiles are a reminder that we can chip away at a large problem through a public health approach: Just as auto safety improvements have left us far better off, it seems plausible to some gun policy experts that a sensible, politically feasible set of public health steps could over time reduce firearm deaths in America by one-third – or more than 10,000 lives saved each year.

More here.