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By Diana Diamond

Gun control: What can we do locally?

Uploaded: May 22, 2018

As a Palo Alto resident who is upset about all the mass shootings our country keeps on witnessing, I want to do something about gun control.

But what? Locally, we are not besieged by shootings, our children are safe in schools, thank goodness, our police are vigilant, and we live in a state that has relatively strong gun control laws – but certainly not enough. And yet, I submit, we should at least try to do our part to get Congress to enact much stronger gun controls, ban automatics and semiautomatics, outlaw bump stocks on guns, get better background checks, and put pressure on gun manufacturers to adjust to the realities of changing views on gun control. Compared to 22 other high-income nations, the U.S. gun-related murder rate is 25 times higher.

Thanks to the students at Parkland, Florida, who decided to do something after their classmates were shot, I think the attitude toward mass gun killings is finally beginning to change. Except in Congress, which has done zilch about gun control during the last two decades, a time when there have been more than 75 mass shootings in our schools, malls and at public events.

How can we end this madness?

We need to try to dramatically reduce the use of guns, and, more importantly, to convince the public that our dependence on guns is worse than our former dependence on cigarettes and drugs.

Three ideas for solving this gun problem were recently in The New York Times: 1) John Paul Stevens, a retired associate Supreme Court justice, declared the Second Amendment should be repealed. A bold idea, but I don’t think it will happen. 2) Stop shielding gun makers and work on repealing laws that prevent suits against the gun industry. The NRA has been successful in enacting these shields. It is time to get them repealed. Lawsuits helped the auto industry make cars safer, and lawsuits can convince gun manufacturers to increase the safety of guns. We are in a situation now where more people die from firearms than motor vehicle accidents. 3) Work on getting the public attitude to change about the overuse of guns in our society.

The third idea is important. Over time, people change their views. Public opinion has helped encourage smoking bans, more fuel-efficient cars, more recycling, and support now for gay marriage.

How do we do this? A tough question.

Obviously, contribute to gun control efforts throughout the country, write letters to the editor on proposals to limit guns in our state, vote for state legislators who support gun control, circulate information on which of our elected government officials received funding from the NRA, and ask all candidates running for public office if they would support gun control legislation.

Those are my ideas. You may have others.

Other Western nations don’t have the same gun problems we have, and their residents live in safer societies. We can make our country a better place to live -- not die from a bullet.