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Finding Common Ground on Gun Violence: David Hogg

David Hogg with Eleanor
David Hogg in Pennsylvania where SenToomey refused to meet with his constituents after the Uvalde shooting including 7-year-old Eleanor. (Photo: David Hogg)
Op-Ed by David Hogg
A March For Our Lives Founder and Board Member

ENEWSPF- I’m exhausted of us focusing on what we can’t agree on after these shootings and not what we can. Now that the GOP has the house, I have a proposal for what common ground I think we could find. Even if you disagree with me, please read this.

We always hear the argument that it’s mental health and not guns. While I don’t agree with thinking it’s just mental health, I DO agree mental health is important- Here’s some common ground I would be open to working with House Republicans and Dems on.

In my view, there are two buckets we have to address if we ever want to reduce gun violence:

  1. Capability (HOW) someone gets a gun. This includes laws, trafficking, enforcing laws, etc.
  2. Intent (WHY) someone pulls the trigger. Mental health, hate, lack of resources, poverty, etc.

Republicans do not like discussing capability for a number of reasons we are all aware of. But they always point to addressing intent, and I do see that as important but in a slightly different way. (Sources to follow)

First Area: Gun Suicide

Area for common ground #1

I think there is room to work together on getting the CDC and NIH more funding to study how to prevent gun suicide because it gets little research funding in comparison to things like sepsis, which have similar death rates. Sepsis kills roughly as many Americans as gun violence, yet government funding to study gun violence is only 0.7% of sepsis.

 2017 Journal of the American Medical Association
(2017 Journal of the American Medical Association)

Area for common ground #2

More block grants for states to fund their mental health care systems and suicide prevention programs- especially in schools because rates of anxiety and depression amongst kids are going up and have been for a while.

Area for common ground #3

Passing The Preventing Suicide Through Voluntary Firearm Purchase Delay Act would curb gun suicides by allowing people to voluntarily enroll themselves onto a “do not sell” list.

Sponsored by: @RepJayapal (D) & John Curtis (R)

Some stats:

  • 2/3 of gun deaths are suicides
  • Nine out of ten people who attempt suicide and survive will not go on to die by suicide at a later date.
  • Guns are the most lethal method of suicide (85% fatal) but not the most common attempt method
  • Gun suicides are disproportionately impacting the Republican constituency. The people who are most likely to die by suicide are gun-owning, older men in rural areas.

Next Area: Gun Murder

Area for common ground #4

Getting more funding for schools and communities for after-school programs, better training for counselors and teachers to know warning signs of students who actually are a threat, and funding hospital-based violence prevention.

Plus, getting communities most impacted and traumatized by daily gun violence more mental health resources could be done through federal block grants.

Hospital-based violence intervention works by stopping retaliation by getting the loved ones of someone who was shot a therapist, and trusted community leaders in the room to support the family and stop retaliation.

Read more here.

A strong predictor of violence is also unemployment. We need to fund the best programs working with communities most impacted by gun violence to help those most at risk to get them the resources they need to break the cycle of trauma, poverty, and violence.

I have one nonstarter: We have to stop acting like someone being mentally Ill automatically means they are going to kill people. As mentioned before, being mentally ill makes you way more likely to hurt yourself than someone else.

I fear if done poorly, this leads to a nightmare situation: kids go to their school counselor and say they have anxiety or are depressed and then are treated like a potential mass shooter. That must be prevented.

Progress Without New Laws Is Possible

Notice how none of the above are gun laws? It’s because while I see gun laws as part of the solution, they are just that — part of the solution. We will never reduce gun violence if we don’t also address why someone picks up a gun in the first place.

I am so tired of seeing shooting after shooting happen, and the cycle of debate and inaction continues. We all want this madness to end, so this is me saying I’m willing to do my part and work together because I’m interested in ending this, not debating it.

There are obviously many things we all disagree on, but as we saw this summer with the bipartisan safer communities act, bipartisan action on gun violence is possible. I can respect those who disagree with me, but I can’t accept there’s nothing we can do.

Until we make our response to these shooting actions and not debate, nothing will change. If you are a house Republican interested in working on this in good faith, either privately or publicly, my DMs are open.