Mass Shootings – The Moral Decay of America?

–Assault Weapons Ban is Sensible Start to Curb Carnage

Deep scars have once again been seared into the moral conscience of America due to the senseless mass gun violence in El Paso and Dayton. These cities join a long and growing unenviable list of communities brutalized by horrific gun massacres involving semi-automatic weapons over the past years and decades:

Austin, Aurora, Binghamton, Blacksburg, Charleston, Edmond, Fort Hood, Gilroy, Killeen, Las Vegas, Littleton, Newton, Orlando, Parkland, Pittsburgh, San Bernardino, Seattle, Thousand Oaks, Virginia Beach… The list goes on. Will it ever end?

Consider some shocking statistics about guns in the USA:

▶︎ There are more firearms among the American civilian population than people — over 400 million according to a 2017 global ranking by the Small Arms Survey (part of the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva, Switzerland).

▶︎ “No other country has more than 46 million guns or 18 mass shooters — the U.S. is way worse than the Philippines, Russia, China or India.”

▶︎ Americans alone own 40% of all guns in the world, more than all civilians combined in 25 other countries.

▶︎ A survey by the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva (part of the Small Arms Survey) shows the gun ownership rate for Americans is 120 per every 100 people. The next highest rate in Yemen, with less than half that many (53 per 100 people).

While Americans reportedly own 120 guns per every 100 people, the rate for Japan and Indonesia is less than one gun per every 100 people.

▶︎ There have been more mass shooting incidents this year than the number of days in the yearover 250 according to Gun Violence Archive (and counting).

Now pause for a moment to let that sink in…because the horror caused by these tragedies won’t heal any time soon. The epidemic of mass gun violence in America raises many alarming questions. Yet some critically important questions need to be addressed now:

  • Will common sense leadership on guns ever prevail among lawmakers in Washington, DC?
  • Can Democrats and Republicans finally work together to safeguard the civilian population against mass gun violence via assault weapons?

An extensive analysis by The New York Times concludes: “The only variable that can explain the high rate of mass shootings in America is its astronomical number of guns.”

Horror in El Paso another in a long list of mass killings plaguing the nation
The mass shooting in El Paso, Texas, on Saturday, that left at least 22 people dead and 26 injured appears to be the…

Smart First Step

It’s apparent by now that a comprehensive multi-pronged approach is needed by the public and private sectors to address a broad range of issues related to firearms, including (but not limited to) the following:

  1. Strong enforcement of current gun laws, or lack thereof.
  2. Closing legal loopholes, such as no background checks at gun shows.
  3. Studying the relationship between mental health, age and gun violence.
  4. Regulating industries which desensitize young people to gun violence.
  5. Leveraging Big Data to improve background checks and gun tracking systems.
  6. Enacting stronger deterrents and harsher penalties for those who violate gun laws.
  7. Increasing citizen engagement through enhanced public education, outreach and awareness campaigns.
  8. Fostering non-partisan partnerships to promote smart gun laws.

The first sensible gun measure which the federal government should try to immediately implement is a more stringent version of the prior assault weapons ban, which expired in 2004. Any new version of this national prohibition would have to close loopholes the firearms industry intentionally exploited while the ban was in effect for a decade. Military-style high power ammunition, clips, and magazines should also be banished from public use, in addition to semi-automatic weapons.

In the wake of the El Paso and Dayton massacres, Americans of goodwill from all sides of the political spectrum should push hard to build a national consensus for a new assault weapons ban. This is a sensible measure to proactively prevent more mass murders involving semi-automatic weapons by deranged gunmen.

Prohibiting the sale of military-style weapons to the public would be a good first step in a larger strategy to end mass gun violence.


David B. Grinberg
David B. Grinberg
David is a strategic communications consultant, ghostwriter, and literary PR agent on issues of workforce diversity, equal employment opportunity, race and gender equity, and other social justice causes. He is a former career spokesman for the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), where he managed media relations for agency headquarters and 50 field offices nationwide for over a decade. Prior to his public service at the EEOC, David was a young political appointee for President Bill Clinton in the White House: Office of Presidential Personnel, and Office of Management and Budget (OMB). A native New Yorker and University of Maryland graduate, David began his career in journalism. You can find David online via LinkedIn, Twitter, Medium, Good Men Project, Thrive Global, BIZCATALYST 360°, and American Diversity Report.

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  1. Mr. Grinberg,
    As a Certified Firearms Instructor and someone who has studied firearms, firearms law and the current mass shooting phenomenon, I was with you up until the end of your list, where you ran off into the weeds of prohibition. Yes, the problem of mass shootings goes far beyond guns and requires a multi-vectored approach. What it has NOTHING to do with, however, is so-called “assault weapons.” First off, the term is meaningless; it’s not about machine guns, which are already prohibited, by and large, in the U.S. It also has nothing to do with “high-capacity” magazines, which have been around for over a century now. There’s no such thing as “high-powered ammo” that differs for military vs. civilian use. (And again, ammunition specifically for warfare, such as incendiary/explosive rounds are already prohibited.) The reality is that people playing politics made up the term “assault weapons” in order to ban firearms they think look scary. Compared to their civilian non-assault counterparts, the differences are cosmetic. In fact, the .223 (5.56) round used by the AR-15 is considered too small and impotent to hunt deer with, and the same holds true for the AK-47’s 7.62x39mm round. Yet said ban would make those illegal, while the mighty 30-06 and the infamous .45-70 Government that cleared the American Great Plains of buffalo would still be readily available.

    These inconsistencies and dichotomies are due to ignorance on the part of non-gun-owners. The simple fact is that banning so-called “assault weapons” is wrongheaded. We learned this during the Clinton era ban, where we did indeed witness a gradual decrease in shooting incidents, but at EXACTLY the same rate as the months leading up to the ban’s implementation, and again in the years immediately following it. According to Clinton’s own Justice Department, the ban had “no measurable impact” on the number of shooting incidents or their severity. An unfortunate side effect to such bans, of course, is that the innocent are also disarmed, shifting, then, the balance of power to the gangs, drug dealers and other criminals responsible for most of the carnage.

    America has always had a lot of guns around, yet we’ve never seen the kind of mass shooting phenomenon we see today. Firearms technology hasn’t made any radical progress over the years, and if you actually compute the number of incidents vs. the number of guns in circulation, shooting incidents (per firearm) have actually DECREASED. This tells us in no uncertain terms that this is a SOCIAL issue. As such, it’s going to take more than Congressional policy, which already makes any possible misuse of firearms (or their manufacture, sale, etc.) illegal. It’s going to require us to shift the focus from the tool (guns) to the reasons why someone decides it’s a good idea to pick one up and open fire. It won’t be an easy quick fix. If it was, we’d have done it long ago.

  2. David, thank you for sharing this piece. Common sense gun legislation is… well… common sense as you’ve articulated so well here. Most of what you delineate above is a priority for the majority of the population. The statistics are staggering, and only through civil discourse will anything change. Your voice is needed. Keep up the good work.

    • Thanks so much, Melissa, I really appreciate your kind words. And ditto that for you. It’s really fascinating to understand some of neuroscience related to the gun issue and people’s behaviors. I always enjoy reading your excellent articles, which are insightful, timely and intellectually stimulating. Keep up the awesome!

  3. David, thanks for your perspective.

    Unfortunately, your article is simply a big long insult or “I’m smarter than you” piece. i want to thank you for saying:

    I lack common sense
    See other solutions than NYT suggests
    Not smart, since i disagree with your first steps
    Not sensible since I disagree with your first ideas
    And apparently not of goodwill because I disagree with your assault gun ban

    And that’s just the first page. You appear to come from the “cling to their guns and religion [read as Constitution]”, and calling a large portion of the population “deplorables” style of communication.

    And most especially if these are not done through amending the Constitution.

    If you’re interested in dialog, you might check out my piece here:

    • Michael: Thanks very much for taking the time to read my article and provide your valuable feedback. Although I strongly disagree with your characterization and assumptions about my writing style, it’s nonetheless critically important that all voices be heard in a constructive open dialogue online. I also appreciate the link to your article, which I can’t wait to read. Thanks again for your thoughtful reply.

    • Thanks for the reasoned reply. We don’t have to agree to have a dialog.

      Love to hear what you think about my article.

    • Interesting read, Michael. Yes, people see things through their own narrow lens as filtered by the media they consume, which often leads to confirmation bias. That’s why I make sure to consume a diversity of news from media sources on the right and left to gain a better understanding of the issues from all sides. FYI—I’ve been a registered independent for over two decades. My last political job was working for President Bill Clinton.
      Lastly, one of my favorite quotes is from Socrates: “All I know is that I know nothing.”