Most issues have two sides. Getting both sides to come to agreement on any issue is not always easy, especially when it comes to gun control. But in light of the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT, it's time for solutions all sides can agree on.
Whether you're for or against gun control, you likely don't want to see people get killed. Yet, even though we have this one common ground, it will still prove difficult to get any legislation around gun control. Why? Because some people will see any legislation on guns as a tipping point to further controls.
So rather than continue to debate the issue, why don't we use one of the principles from my book Flash Foresight, and that is to take the problem and skip it. In other words, instead of trying to ban certain types of weapons and ammunition, let's put that to the side for now and in its place let's focus on a strategy that doesn't ban anything. And that strategy could be to require a trigger lock on all weapons.
For those who aren't familiar with a trigger lock, it's a small device that fits on a gun's trigger. When the lock is in place, you can't fire the weapon without unlocking the trigger lock with a special key. A trigger lock can fit on any weapon, from a handgun to an assault rifle. And it's very inexpensive, usually under $10.
Anyone who hunts or has guns shouldn't be offended by having to use trigger locks, because no one is saying you can't use your gun. No one is saying you can't have a gun or two or twenty. No one is saying you can't buy more guns. This measure simply says that if you have a gun, you have to put a trigger lock on it so your kids or other unauthorized people can't fire the gun (accidentally or intentionally). Additionally, if someone breaks into your home and steals your gun, they can't use the weapon because they won't have the key to unlock the trigger lock.
Of course, with that legislation could be some penalties for non-compliance that escalate depending on the type of weapon. For example, if you didn't get a trigger lock for your gun after the law was passed, and your gun was stolen and used in a crime, then you'd face a penalty for not having the lock. If it were a semi-automatic weapon that didn't have a trigger lock on it and it was used in a crime, the penalty would be quite high compared to not having the lock on a shotgun.
Additionally, when any weapon is sold, not only by a gun store but also at gun shows and other places where gun enthusiasts buy and sell guns, all of them would have to have a trigger lock as part of the sale. Would this raise the price of a gun? Probably not. In fact, if this measure was law, the cost of trigger locks would likely drop from today's $10 to as low as $3. Some communities and organizations would even give the trigger locks away for free just to ensure all guns have them.
This simple measure does not infringe on anyone's second amendment rights, yet it can provide a powerful and immediate barrier to a curious kid, a thief, or someone who needs a little time to cool off.
By skipping the problem of banning certain types of weapons and ammunition and instead focusing on something that can make a difference without a lot of time and effort, perhaps we can all learn to work together to solve problems in a new way--a way that focuses on finding common ground rather than dwelling on all the things we disagree on. Of course, trigger locks won't stop all mass shootings, but they will make a difference. Perhaps we can even see this as a single step toward working together to find a better way of identifying and helping people with the types of mental illnesses that lead to mass shootings.