The Florida school massacre has prompted a seismic reaction.

Revelations about missed opportunities to investigate the shooter and the lack of immediate response by an armed officer on campus are, of course, enormous stories.

The NRA lobby thinks law enforcement and community failures are somehow arguments against gun control. Clearly, they are arguments FOR further debate about the devices of killing and how they get and remain in the hands of dangerous people, too dangerous for even some law officers to wish to confront. A school teacher with all his or her duties is somehow going to be a better line of defense than a sworn law officer?

There is an easy place to begin. Let’s start with research.


We could know so much more about public health issues surrounding guns. But the Dickey amendment prevents research by the Centers for Disease Control. Doctors are inhibited in asking about guns in homes The BATF can’t distribute its data. All these limits are products of NRA lobbying against research. Research might produce safety measures sa auto research has done. But that might mean a reduction in gun sales.  Fewer people might have guns in homes if they were required to have liability insurance or faced meaningful criminal penalties for negligence in storage.

Congress should try again. Will any member of Congress from Arkansas vote to open the door to scientific research? The late Jay Dickey, a Republican from Pine Bluff who brought about the ban on CDC research, came to regret it before he died.


Florida legislators, including Republicans, are talking about raising the age on gun purchases to 21 among other measures. The NRA has stoutly resisted this. It’s worth consideration, though I admit the contradiction in  barring the civilian purchase of firearms by people we are ready to dispatch to foreign wars with even more powerful weapons.

Can’t we legislate an end to bumpstocks, which effectively create automatic weapons of mass slaughter? Yesterday?

Can’t we end the gun show loophole on background checks and move to a universal system? Yesterday?

We make women wait days to get a legal medical procedure. Why not a waiting period for weapon purchases, particularly semi-automatic military-style weapons of little use on a hunt for anything but humans.


Even some conservatives, but not the NRA, favor red-flag laws that would allow a due process court procedure to take guns away from people who’ve demonstrated a real threat. Let’s have that debate.

Oregon has extended the law on domestic abuse to cover non-spouses when gun rights are lost through convictions and prevent purchase by stalkers and those under domestic abuse orders. Let’s do it. Rep. Clarke Tucker was rebuffed by the legislature in 2017 for his effort to take guns from those convicted of misdemeanor domestic battery.
Tucker’s bill got a whopping 31 votes in the 100-member House. Republican Rep. Bullet Bob Ballinger said it would just be wrong to take away a 2nd Amendment right for a “relatively minor encounter.” Let’s have that debate again. Do legislators really want to defend guns in the hands of proven domestic batterer?

Then the biggie. A ban on assault weapons. It worked in Australia. Sen. Marco Rubio — as easy to buy as an AR-15, cracked a Florida massacre survivor — has already enunciated the NRA’s slippery slope argument. With what does it end? It wouldn’t stop criminals. And so on. Let’s debate it.

I think the old assurance that voting the NRA line is the safest course politically may be dramatically altered, at least in some states, beginning with swing-state Florida. Tell Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan, Jeremy Gillam, Jonathan Dismang and anybody else who claims to be a legislative leader to have these debates.

Then call the damn roll. Make a record of who puts guns above kids. And then let the people vote at the polls. The NRA wants to kill this idea in the crib, because they can read the national public opinion polls as well as I can.

And while we’re at it, let’s get a separate vote from the country’s teachers on making them security guards along with everything else they are expected to do. Yes, talk about the cost of comprehensive school safety measures, too. I’d guess the costs would be a lot lower if the threats didn’t include the country’s oversupply of military-style weapons of mass killing.