Mass shooting solutions voiced by locals

What should be done to decrease mass shootings?

"We, as a country, have a people problem – not a gun problem," says Denver Sullivan, Osgood. "We need to quit pretending and address the psychological and emotional issues that lead folks to commit these terrible acts. We haven’t banned cars, knives, swimming pools, baseball bats, etc., and all of those are just as deadly, if not more so, than firearms are in the wrong hands. Guns should be no different."

Adding or changing laws will do nothing to address the issue, according to the CNHI Indiana Shared Services information services and technology director. "The folks committing these crimes are criminals who – by definition – ... have no regard for the law anyway."

Sullivan offers seven proposals:

"1) Eliminate gun-free zones. These leave law-abiding citizens defenseless and easy targets for these animals. Criminals target these areas because they know no one is going to be shooting back.

2) Pass national reciprocity so that those who are licensed do not have to leave their ability for self-defense behind as they travel beyond their home states.

3) Enforce the gun laws that are already on the books – including the enhanced penalties for criminals in possession of firearms.

4) Address our dysfunctional mental health system and get those who are a danger to themselves or others the treatment they need or isolate them from the general population instead of ignoring the problem.

5) Provide real, visible armed security at large public venues. While most malls, theaters, etc., have security, they are just as defenseless as the general public because the facility owners refuse to allow them to be armed. Most aren’t even allowed to carry mace or handcuffs.

6) Work with gun owners and firearms organizations instead of demonizing them. If you don’t want to carry a gun, you don’t have to. If someone attempts to do you harm, an armed citizen nearby will defend you just like they would themselves or their family. We can as a society protect each other.

7) The media needs to quit glorifying these deranged individuals. All it does is lead unstable people to commit copy-cat crimes to satisfy their personal need for fame, attention or infamy."

Due to the recent series of shootings, Sullivan avoids gun-free zones when possible and instead shops and visits areas "where I’m free to carry and protect myself and my family. If I do have to go to one of these (gun-free) areas, I rely on situational awareness and in some cases concealable body armor for additional security."

The NRA Benefactor Life Member owns several guns and in his spare time works as an armorer, repairing civilian, military and law enforcement firearms for a manufacturer. "I also provide firearms training in that role."

He concludes, "I recognize that there is evil in this world and my personal safety is my responsibility and no one else's. It’s unrealistic to expect law enforcement to protect everyone, everywhere at any time day or night. This is why I carry on a regular basis and encourage others to do so."

Larry Reidy, Ballstown, thinks each gun permit should require training.

He believes if more people had concealed carry permits and the training to go with having guns, some shooters could be stopped before a huge tragedy occurs. "A mass shooter walking into a place, he'd be dead on the spot."

The U.S. Army veteran even recommends two or three teachers at each school should get trained and have concealed weapons in case an intruder threatens lives.

"In Texas, they have very few shootings ... People know 70 percent, maybe 60 percent, of the people out there are armed."

Banning guns is not the answer, according to the retiree. "All it does is create a black market for guns."

How can guns be kept out of the hands of unstable individuals? Reidy answers, "I think the problem is the background checks don't go deep enough or somebody drops the ball. The guy in Dayton, he had somebody buy a gun for him. ... That's against federal law ... He should go to jail for that."

The National Rifle Association member owns 107 guns. Reidy reviews guns at http://batesvilleshooter.com and teaches safety shooting classes at rifle and pistol ranges he constructed on his property.

He taught a class to six women of all ages two weeks ago. After watching varying abilities, the man notes, "There are some people that should never, ever have a gun."

Reidy ended the phone call by pointing out, "There has never been a mass shooting with a member of NRA."

Former Batesville resident Allie (Korosi) Benham, who has lived for the past decade in Los Angeles, has a unique perspective on gun violence.

On Oct. 1, 2017, she, her husband Kyle and another couple were in Las Vegas leaving a Mandalay Bay Hotel & Casino restaurant. In a blog at https://kateandallie.com/2017/10/03/viva-las-vegas, she wrote, "We were stopped and asked to stay on the patio. We checked our phones. 'Active shooter situation reported at the Mandalay Bay ...'"

They were rushed through a corridor toward the convention center, then made it outside. "A helicopter swirls overhead yelling inaudible directions. 'Run.' That’s all we needed, we were off. We paused about a mile down the road, catching our breath."

Benham reports, "We didn’t know (it) would be the largest mass shooting to date (59 dead) until hours later."

Of gun control, she urged at the end of the post, "If you can make a difference, please do."

To lessen mass shootings, "we need to agree to implement common sense gun safety laws – which most Americans support," she says by email in response to questions. "This means better background checks across the board, closing loopholes (gun shows are a big one), mandatory waiting periods for mental health checks and confirming there is no history of domestic violence for the purchaser." She also suggests holding regular gun buy-back events to collect firearms and increase community involvement and awareness of the issue.

"I’d love to see guns regulated at the level we regulate cars and drivers" – mandatory testing on paper and in the field.

"While I don’t see it happening in the current administration, I would like to see semi-automatic and automatic weapons banned for use by civilians. Perhaps there are special licenses that would allow for the purchase of these, but seeing as many mass shootings are at the hands of guns that fire 100+ rounds in a matter of seconds, we need to take away this option. There is no argument that will convince me a civilian needs a weapon of this nature."

While Benham grew up around guns and was able to practice shooting regularly, she's not confident enough in her abilities to own one. "My husband and I talk about this often, as we live in an area with a large MS-13 (criminal gang) presence and a slower-to-respond police force due to sheer volume. We brought a 'guard dog' into our home about a year ago, and he has helped us feel safer and more secure, but we still consider a firearm for protection, but would both want to take classes and receive some type of certification first."

She reflects, "I see a lot of arguments saying this is a mental health issue, parents aren’t watching their kids properly, or it’s the violent video games. I don’t disagree with any of these things, but the fact is, we are the only developed nation with regular mass shootings. So while these may be factors as to what drives someone to make the decision, their access to guns is what allows this to continue to happen."

Benham warns, "It’s a matter of time before Batesville is affected by gun violence, whether it is in our town or one of its residents is harmed while traveling elsewhere – to Cincinnati or Indianapolis or beyond."

Debbie Blank can be contacted at debbie.blank@batesvilleheraldtribune.com or 812-934-4343, Ext. 113.

More thoughts

A request by The Herald-Tribune posted to Facebook seeking persons willing to be interviewed about how to stop so many shootings reached 1,900 – many more than the number who read recent local crime stories – so this is a concerning issue.

Some chose to comment on Facebook:

Patty Thomas: "It’s not so much about the guns as it is mental health care."

Kim Wright Brockman: "Ban violent video games, improve values education, censor violent TV again ... We’ve desensitized the last two generations of Americans by the explosion of media, internet and the options on cable/streaming services. We didn’t have these issues when we had rotary phones and four channels for TV."

Jane O'Grady responded to Brockman's message: "I totally agree! Numerous kids today are spending hours playing video game. The majority of these are violent! It is up to the parents to control this. Parents, pull the plug on these video games!"

Sarah Walsman: "How about only allowing ammunition for assault rifles to be available at shooting ranges, and that ammunition must be completely accounted for before the gun owners leave with their weapon? That would allow collectors to keep the rifles they like, and even show them off to others, but would also keep the assault rifles from being used outside of strictly monitored conditions. Also, ban the idea of swap meet or similar gun sales by offering special services for selling or 'returning' guns. People could sell their late relatives' weapons for 10 percent more than what the average price would typically be, plus that sale would be tax free, or a tax writeoff or both."

Shawn Riehle: "More legal gun owners and do away with 'gun-free' locations, where most of these slayings take place."

Tim Becker: "Chicago has the toughest gun laws in the country. Do the opposite of what they do. The majority of shooters seem to be Democrats."

Kyle Hardebeck: "More trained civilian weapon carriers."

Chaz Kaiser: "I'm a 'shooter.' I and a buddy even have our own shooting competition. And, yes, it is with semi-auto rifles and handguns. I was taught respect for weapons early on. I was also taught respect for people early on. Parents today are not the parents of yesteryear. I think that tends to be a large factor with the mass shooters. I'm not saying all parents are bad today, but some should not have taken on that responsibility."

Jaime Mustaine: "Tax the hell out of bullets. You want bullets for an AK-47? How about a $1,000 tax? You want bullets for your shotgun? $1 tax. We are wrapped up in gun ownership, which is protected by the Constitution. If they can tax ... cigarettes because of health hazards and 'they kill,' well, so do bullets."

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