‘It’s an American problem’: US readers on preventing future mass shootings

As America comes to terms with its worst school shooting since Sandy Hook, a decade ago, the nation is mourning the killing of 19 children and two adults at Robb elementary school in Uvalde, Texas.

Here people from across the United States explain what they think should be done to prevent future mass shootings in the country.

We should codify the National Rifle Association’s own gun safety rules in federal law, and force all gun owners to take responsibility. There are no gun accidents; there is only negligence on the part of gun owners and users. Only when accountability is incorporated into gun ownership will the current culture change. This is not my idea, nor is it new. It was publicly recommended in 2015 by another retired military member. There is an old military maxim that states one must have both power and the will to use it to prevail against an enemy. In the USA those with power do not have the will, while those with the will have no power. Unless and until we make a conscious effort to change the culture around gun ownership in America, nothing will change. Sadly, you can count me among those not holding my breath waiting for this to happen. Mary Blackwell, 68, retired USAF, business owner, Florida

Owning a gun should be illegal, at least certain kinds of guns. Guns that have no use being in the market, such as those that have been used in mass shootings. What’s the need for them other than war? Perhaps the first steps are to only allow hunting, or guns that allow one bullet at a time. We also need stricter regulations, requirements, background checks and mental assessments. People who currently own these weapons used for mass destruction should be asked to turn them in. Collect these guns and stop their distribution! It’s ridiculous that the average citizen has access to these weapons. Cynthia Escalante, 28, El Paso, Texas

As a minimum, all semi-automatic weapons with detachable magazines should be outlawed from private use. I would go as far as to say that only revolvers, bolt-action and lever-action rifles should be allowed outside of law enforcement. Banning all firearms would result in broad resistance in the US. The important thing is to prevent the rapid discharge of cartridges whether from a handgun or rifle, and especially from guns with high capacity, quick, reloading ability. It would also be a good idea to bar anyone under 21 years of age from even handling firearms. Anonymous, 64, Vermont

I come from a military family and a gun-friendly household, and I’d like to see a few reforms. The epidemic of gun violence is not a Republican or Democrat problem, it’s an American problem. States really need to take on more responsibility in finding creative solutions in the absence of federal reforms.

The gun lobby has a perverse reading of the second amendment, and promotes the idea that any individual has the right to an unfettered, unlimited access to weapons and ammunition. But the constitution does not protect unlimited access to ammunition, and if we can’t limit gun sales, we can certainly limit sales of ammunition.

Besides an assault weapons ban, I think it’s reasonable for the United States to make it illegal to own an unregistered firearm, and to, for instance, limit the sale of ammunition to individuals for only the firearms they have registered.

Then perhaps we can tie gun ownership to education, make people take tests to prove they’re cleared for responsible ownership. And, for the love of God, let’s teach gun safety in public schools. The cultural values around guns can change, and that begins in the classroom in a civilised society.

Our idealisation of the military and problems surrounding masculinity feed into the high levels of admiration kids have for guns. It’s why these shooters write manifestos. They are left alone with all this violence in their minds. The messaging about what guns are for needs to change. Jacob Schatz, 31, videographer and editor, Austin, Texas

The honest truth? We can do nothing. We have a system of government where one political party can block gun reform laws that a vast majority of Americans want. And can do so with impunity. We have a court system that has judges who want to expand the ability to acquire and carry firearms without limit. Until the Republican party begins to pay a genuine political price for caring about guns more than people’s lives, this will not change. David Paye, 50, teacher, Maine

More states (or the federal government) should adopt laws or regulations similar to the ones in Massachusetts. These laws raise the bar and standards on firearm ownership, including safe storage, transportation and use. They also require renewal periods to ensure that responsible ownership is dynamic, not certified just once in a person’s lifetime.

It allows individuals the right to still hunt, target shoot, or participate in other shooting sports in a safe and reasonable way. If the US were to adopt similar laws throughout the many states, I would hope and expect the amount of gun violence to decrease. Unfortunately, there are already so many firearms in circulation in the United States (probably the largest factor correlating to gun violence) that this will likely undermine common sense laws and regulations. Rob, 53, Boston, Massachusetts

Treat guns like vehicle laws. Gun owners should be held responsible for licensing their guns. They should carry insurance and be held liable in the event their gun is used in a crime. Violations result in permissions being suspended or removed permanently. Stop calling the shooter “the shooter” or “a gunman”. Refer to them as murderers. Sadly, nothing will change until most Americans realise that, in effect, our country prioritises gun rights over human rights.

The rights of people to go about their business and not be shot is more important than the right to own a gun. Until Americans really understand that blind worship of the second amendment means nobody is safe, including them, nothing will change. Penelope Miller, 61, university administrator, Pittsburgh

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