To stop gun violence, use economic tools

Dr. Julianne Malveaux

By Julianne Maleaux

( – There have been at least 214 mass shootings in the United States so far this year, the most recent being the killings at a July 4 rally in Highland Park, Illinois. This year we were also both captivated and horrified by the massacre of twenty-one people, nineteen children, in Uvalde, Texas. A crazed racist killed 10 black people and injured at least three others when he shot at a Tops grocery store in Buffalo. In 2022, there were more shootings than days; shootings became commonplace.

The Biden administration and relevant lawmakers have done what they can to restrict gun ownership, given our nation’s gun culture and our combatively divided Senate. There’s a new gun safety law, and some mass shooting survivors joined him at the White House to celebrate the legislation. Yet even after Congress passed the law, we learned that the new law would not have stopped the Highland Park shooting because the 18-year-old man who carried out the shooting bought the assault weapon. that he used legally.

The families of the victims are tired of people offering thoughts and prayers. They want action! The Safer Communities Act, passed on a bipartisan basis last month, is a step in the right direction, but it doesn’t go far enough. We need to use economic tools or bring economics into the gun safety conversation. Those of us who are disgusted by the mass shootings and violence that plague our inner cities may have guns at our disposal to punish those who participate in and encourage our gun culture.

Those of us with stock portfolios must insist that our fund managers avoid stocks like Smith and Wesson (SWBI), which produced more than 1.5 million guns in 2020. If more people who say they hate gun violence stop investing in gun manufacturing companies, maybe those companies would rethink their manufacturing, marketing and lobbying. Gun ownership has been cleverly marketed, with companies using buzzwords like safety to encourage gun purchases.

Survivors of gun violence and their families should sue the arms manufacturers who produce the deadly weapons that make the killings possible. Earlier this year, Remington (RGM) agreed to pay the families of the 2012 Sandy Hook shootings, where 20 children and six educators were killed. It took a decade between the shooting and the settlement of the lawsuit, so the families are to be commended for their perseverance. Families of victims in Uvalde, Buffalo and Highland Park should consider pursuing similar lawsuits to punish businesses that flood the public with deadly weapons.

Those who facilitate gun ownership by young shooters should also be prosecuted. In the Highland Park case, the shooter’s father, Bobby Crimo, said he did nothing wrong by signing his son’s gun license application. From all indications, his son Bobby Crimo, Jr. was troubled. He had once threatened to kill his family, triggering a police investigation. And yet, his father signs for a gun license. Pursue him. If those who mindlessly sign gun licenses understand that their actions have financial consequences, they might think again.

Some would say that Crimo and some of the other shooters were adults. I say if you facilitated the purchase of firearms, you should pay for it.

We may also use our system of taxes or surcharges to limit the distribution of ammunition. Comedian Chris Rock was right when he said in 2009, “You don’t need gun control, you know what you need? We need ball control. I think all the balls should cost five thousand dollars… five thousand dollars per ball… Do you know why? Because if a bullet cost five thousand dollars, there would be no more innocent bystanders. Every time someone got shot, it seems. . .He must have done something… he’s got fifty thousand dollars worth of bullets in his behind. .. Even if you got shot by a stray bullet, you wouldn’t need to go to a doctor to have it removed.

Whoever shot you was taking the bullet back, like, “I think you got my property back. Rock might be joking, but not me. We use our tax system to encourage or discourage specific behavior or to cover the costs of such behavior. We use gasoline taxes to maintain the roads. We tax cigarettes and alcohol to discourage consumption. Why not tax bullets (or impose a surcharge) to discourage their use. If we are to slow or stop gun violence, economic tools may well be the answer.

Dr. Julianne Malveaux is an economist, author, and dean of the College of Ethnic Studies at Cal State

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