It didn’t take me very long at the beginning of my police career to see that handguns, easily concealed, were killing police officers across the country. So why don’t we seek to control these weapons? Well, most of you know the story…
My professional police organization, the Police Executive Research Forum (of which I am a life member) has now put together, with the input of its members, a comprehensive report on the control of firearms in America (yes, enough is enough!) and I have listed their specific recommendations below.
I broke ranks with the NRA (National Rifle Association) early in my police career. It occurred when teflon-coated ammunition started to appear on the market. If you remember, this ammunition was designed primarily for one thing: to pierce the body armor worn by police officers. The NRA opposed legislation which sought to ban the sale of this type of ammunition. I said “goodbye” to the NRA.
Let’s work to implement these specific recommendations in our cities and states! Blue lives matter, too!
Specific Actions That Will Have the Largest Impact in Reducing Gun Violence
The following recommendations reflect the thinking of leading law enforcement executives regarding principles and actions that would make a difference in reducing the numbers of deaths and injuries from gun violence.
1. Keep guns out of the hands of people who are legally prohibited from owning them.
[This is PERF’s #1 recommendation because it has the potential to reduce fatalities in all four categories of gun deaths: suicides; street crime; domestic violence-related shootings; and mass shootings.]
o Strengthen the federal Background Check system by:
▪ Ensuring more complete, timely, and standardized reporting of information to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, with a particular focus on criminal convictions and drug abuse and mental health data. (Implementation of the Fix NICS Act should be a priority.)
▪ Requiring background checks for all private sales and transfers (potentially through Federal Firearms Licensees), to include weapons sold at gun shows and over the Internet.
▪ Increasing the length of time during which background checks can be completed, so as to minimize “delayed denial” situations.
▪ Expanding disqualifying criteria for purchasing a firearm to include intimate partner domestic violence (closing the so-called “boyfriend loophole”) and the misdemeanor offense of stalking.
o States should enact licensing or permitting systems for gun owners as another mechanism to help ensure that people who purchase and possess firearms are responsible gun owners.
2. We can prevent future killings by deterring people from illegally carrying firearms today.
o States should enact swift, certain, and proportional punishments for those charged with illegal possession of a firearm and other gun crimes.
o Penalties should be modest for first offenses, and should increase significantly for each subsequent offense. The purpose is not to incarcerate large numbers of offenders for long periods of time, but to convey a clear message that illegal carrying of firearms will not be tolerated. The goal is to break up the common pattern of repeated arrests for gun possession, with little or no consequences, eventually leading to an arrest for a homicide or other serious gun crime, with severe consequences.
o Accountability measures should be supported by an education campaign alerting the public to the consequences of illegally carrying firearms.
o Law enforcement agencies should work closely with state and local prosecutors, early in the investigatory process, to build strong cases that can be successfully prosecuted.
o As part of their focused deterrence strategies, agencies should form close partnerships with federal officials on prosecuting high-risk gun offenders in federal court.
o Agencies should create and support victim and witness protection programs to guard against intimidation and to support cooperation with investigators and prosecutors.
3. What every gun owner must do: Secure guns in the home, and remove guns from homes where they pose an extreme risk.
o Enact and enforce laws (such as Child Access Protection statutes) that mandate the safe storage of firearms in homes and vehicles. These laws should be supported by public education campaigns that explain how to safely secure firearms, as well as prosecution of violators.
o Enact and utilize Extreme-Risk Protection Order laws that allow family members or friends to petition the courts to order the temporary removal of firearms from individuals who may be at risk of harming themselves or others. Police Executive Research Forum o Enact and enforce laws that provide for the immediate surrender of firearms upon conviction of domestic violence offenses or other disqualifying events under federal law. Agencies should create and train specialized units to enforce protection orders and remove firearms from these offenders.
o Develop and use lethality assessments tools for officers responding to the scene of a domestic violence incident to help determine if the victim is at an increased risk of being killed in a subsequent incident. Such tools can complement problem-oriented policing strategies aimed at curbing domestic violence.
o Enact laws requiring gun owners to report to police the loss or theft of their firearms.
4. Implement evidence-based policing strategies to target the small number of offenders who are responsible for most gun violence.
o Law enforcement agencies should vigorously investigate non-fatal shootings and gun possession cases, as a strategy for preventing future shootings and homicides.
o Agencies should implement evidence-based enforcement and prevention strategies that include: ▪ Focused deterrence ▪ Hot spot policing ▪ Directed patrols ▪ Problem-oriented policing.
o Predictive Policing Models can help agencies more effectively deploy resources to support these initiatives.
o Efforts to build community trust and engagement can help ensure that community members will tell police what they know about gun violence offenders.
5. Ballistics technology is extremely powerful.
o Law enforcement agencies should collect ballistics evidence in all shootings, including random shootings and those in which no one is hit.
o Agencies should strive to develop the necessary resources or partnerships to run all ballistics evidence through NIBIN (National Integrated Ballistics Information Network) and aggressively pursue all investigative leads. The goal should be to submit casings and receive results from NIBIN within 48 hours.
o Agencies should test fire all guns they recover and trace all crime guns through the eTrace system.
o The ATF’s Crime Gun Intelligence Centers should be a priority for federal funding, and local agencies should take full advantage of this resource.
6. Reducing the carnage: Limit the availability of high-powered firearms.
o Limit the capacity of ammunition magazines to 10 rounds. Police Executive Research Forum
o Ban the sale and importation of bump stocks.
o Ban the future sale and importation of military-style weapons that have no purpose except to kill large numbers of people as quickly as possible.
7. Stop guns from entering the black market.
o Law enforcement agencies should vigorously investigate and prosecute both individuals and gun dealers who engage in straw purchases and other illegal gun trafficking schemes.
o To guard against gun store burglaries and robberies, there should be strict physical security standards at federally licensed firearms dealers.
o Individuals should be required to report stolen or lost firearms. To support the reporting of stolen firearms, there should be public education campaigns to explain how to record identifying information about the firearm (e.g., serial number) and how to report it as stolen.
8. Connecting the dots: Assessing threats to intervene in mass shootings.
o Develop and use threat assessment protocols for individuals who come to the attention of law enforcement as potential mass attack offenders. Police Executive Research Forum
o To combat school shootings, school resource officers, teachers and other school personnel should be trained to look for tell-tale signs of crisis or violence, and protocols should be established for reporting and following up on those threats.
9. Verifying what works: Dramatically expand gun violence research.
o The federal government, through the CDC and other agencies, should support high quality research on evidence-based strategies for combating gun violence.
o Private foundations should continue to support gun violence research.
o Law enforcement agencies should work closely with the research community to engage in research projects that examine the effectiveness of their gun violence programs and strategies.
o Special attention should be given to researching the recommendations made in this report.
See the entire report HERE.