Curiosity and Questioning
Gun Violence Prevention
Recently, a writer-philosopher responded to a question about the greatest gift a person can bring to life's table. His response was CURIOSITY. I can run a long way with his answer. Yet, being a Christian and a Lutheran, thereby in love with the Word of God, I opened my NRSV Concordance and looked under curiosity. Alas, there was only one reference and that was in the Apocrypha, 2 Esdras 9:13: "...to be curious about how the ungodly will be punished...." Not very helpful!
When in question look to Jesus! There it was in Luke 23:8-90: "When Herod saw Jesus, he was very glad, for he had been wanting to see him for a long time, because he had heard about him and was hoping to see him perform some sign. He questioned him at some length, but Jesus gave him no answer." Herod was curious so he questioned him.
How curious are we about finding solutions to gun violent prevention? Do we even ask questions in search of answers? I am convinced until we do get curious and ask questions about solutions, the carnage of 34,000 gun deaths a year will only increase.
Linda and I attended a conference which focused on NEW APPROACHES TO REDUCING GUN VIOLENCE IN MINNESOTA. The presenters were from Duke University, Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, University of Minnesota, the Minneapolis Chief of Police, and the Executive Director of The Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence. The sponsor of the event was THE EDUCATIONAL FUND TO STOP GUN VIOLENCE.
Their CURIOSITY led them to ask QUESTIONS about how to reduce gun violence. They were curious and questioning because in the previous 204 days there had been 204 mass shootings (not all leading to deaths), 34 people are murdered each day, about 20,000 people commit suicide each year and there are about 300 million guns in private hands in the USA. More guns equal more gun deaths. They were committed to asking questions and being curious about protecting life.
They concluded that being proactive rather than reactive was part of the solution. Being proactive means recognizing the RISK FACTORS which lead people to use guns, and then ordering Gun Violence Restraining Orders (GVRO) upon those individuals who are at risk for gun violence. A GVRO provides the opportunity for family, friends and intimate partners to intervene and temporarily disarm a loved one who is in crisis. By intervening to remove guns already possessed and to prevent new gun purchases, a safer circumstance was created for their family to seek treatment or engage other resources to address the underlying causes of the dangerous behaviors.
The RISK FACTORS are: 1) Domestic violence convictions and accusations; 2) Violent misdemeanor convictions (assault, road rage); 3) Multiple DUI and drug/alcohol convictions. In these situations, a judge could issue a GVRO for those exhibiting the RISK FACTORS and who are a danger to their families. The respondent has a right to a hearing. After the crisis has passed, the GVRO is lifted.
Why is the GVRO needed? Because presently there is no mechanism to restrict firearm access on a case-by-case basis when no crime has been committed or an individual does not meet the criteria for an involuntary civil commitment for mental health treatment. California has adopted the GVRO strategy. The outcome: a 29% reduction in gun violence and a 25% decrease in homicides.
The GVRO is worth a try. It seems CURIOSITY leading to QUESTIONING has saved lives. Where are the Herods?