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Thank you for your May 17 editorial ("Mass shootings can't be nation's default"). However, I take exception to one sentence: "Other solutions, like background checks, are obvious and attainable but frustratingly ineffective."
While background checks on all gun sales won't prevent every shooting, they will result in reduced gun violence, and that should be our goal.
Many studies show this. For example, a 2019 finding by the Rockefeller Institute of Government showed that states' requiring background checks on unlicensed gun sales are associated with a 10% reduction in homicides.
We should not let perfection get in the way of progress. I am so tired of hearing "Well, Solution A would not have helped in Specific Instance B." That is extremely simplistic, binary thinking.
Daniel Webster, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research, has said there's "pretty robust research evidence" showing background checks make a great impact when coupled with licensing laws (which require people to have a license issued by local authorities to buy, own, possess a gun), and result in "significant reductions in homicides, suicides, shootings of law enforcement officers in the line of duty, mass shootings, [and] diversions of guns from legal to illegal use."
Instead of "either/or," "this or that" thinking, what if we adopted a "yes and" mind-set? What if we had background checks on all gun sales and renewed the Countering Violent Extremism program as proposed?
I was also pleased that you ran the opinion piece by Prof. James Densley and Jillian Peterson on the page opposite of your editorial ("Ideology is not what drives most mass killers"). He has spoken about the "Swiss cheese" approach to gun violence prevention. Clearly there is not one perfect solution that will immediately end gun violence. Each solution is like a slice of Swiss cheese with some holes in it. However, if you add another layer of Swiss cheese, that imperfect solution with some holes will cover up holes in the previous solution.
The pandemic has taught us the wisdom of this approach (vaccines and masking and social distancing). Any one solution on its own is insufficient, but if you address the problem from multiple angles, you will see the numbers go down.
Leah Kondes lives in Minneapolis.