Wanted:  Leaders to Tackle Mass Shooting Epidemic

(Photo: Vigil for Victims in Dayton, Ohio – courtesy Wiki Commons)

After the recent horror of multiple mass shootings – at a garlic festival in California,  at a Wal-Mart in El Paso,  and, finally, at a popular nightlife neighborhood of Dayton  – I  went to social media and posed two questions:  “What is wrong with America? Why does this keep happening?” The responses were wildly different.

“Pundits will make this political, each blaming the other side’s ideology. But something bigger is happening here. It’s called evil.”

“I don’t think there’s enough being done to address the signals of mental illness.”

“I really think these violent video games play a large part. We are desensitizing our youth at a very young age and teaching them to shoot people.”

 “It’s the parents that fail in raising their kids.”

Some readers blamed the news media for exaggerated reporting of the country’s mindset.

“News is very biased. They mention color and race before character or motive.”  Another citizen agreed writing, “They take a story and just keep making things worse. All they ever spew out is hate and racism.”

Is the Easy Availability of Guns to Blame for the Madness?

Several readers called for more and tougher gun laws including a return to a ban on automatic weapons.  A woman wrote in from Ljubljana, Slovenia to say, “Such things almost never happen in Europe. We also have crazies, angry and frustrated people, we also have violent video games, but people here don’t have guns and have not grown up in a gun culture. I’m not saying you have to get rid of guns, because I know you never will, but it’s guns!!”

Naturally, there were those who disagreed. “Blaming guns for these tragedies makes as much sense as blaming cars for drunk driving tragedies. Angry, damaged people bent on violence will always find a way to cause harm – with or without guns. Timothy McVey (sic) used fertilizer.”

There is merit to all these responses. There is no one simple reason that can explain why (mostly) men pick up guns and kill groups of innocent people.  Yet many believe the bulk of the blame lies in the rhetoric coming from the White House.

“Electing a sane president would help,” one respondent wrote to me. Another opined that, “The answer to your question is complex but it starts with the impeachment of tRump!”

POTUS Response to Mass Shootings Criticized – White House Pool Photo

I believe blaming one person, namely President Trump, is to insult our collective intelligence. Mass shootings began years before this president’s tenure and, sadly, they may continue for decades. That said I’m embarrassed by many things this President says and tweets. I’d like to see much more civility and humility coming from the President.  But also from those 2020 presidential candidates who exploit these tragic situations by spewing simplistic anti-Trump demagoguery– you should be ashamed.  Naming a scapegoat never solves a problem. Finding solutions does.

So how about it? Instead of name calling, finger pointing and political posturing isn’t there one leader in this country who can rally a truly bipartisan group to identify common triggers that cause shooters to go on deadly rampages?  Is there no one – either an elected official or a concerned citizen – who will step forward to say, “Let’s find solutions instead of bickering!”?  Several billionaire Americans have dedicated themselves to environmental organizations, art museums or to help eradicate disease in other countries. Wouldn’t it be great if one would lead the way to further society’s understanding of mass shooters?  Maybe we could avoid some of the carnage.

Every State Needs to Pass This Language

Here are some commonsense recommendations:  First, specifically identify and ban automatic weapons. Second, the U.S. Congress needs to stop with the long vacations and get to work making universal (and thorough) background checks the law of the land.  The Senate must stop stalling and approve the House-passed bill closing gun show loopholes, ensuring that no person can get a same-day gun.  All  internet sales of ammunition must be stopped,  We should demand closer real time monitoring of over-the-counter ammunition sales and restrict the number of bullets in gun magazines.  Give states financial assistance for more and improved mental health facilities. How many times must we hear that a family recognized the need to institutionalize a mentally ill loved one, but no beds were available? All states should join the 15 that have adopted “Red-Flag” bills which allow family members or local police to ask a judge for permission to confiscate guns from at-risk people. It also bans them from buying more firearms.  And finally, special emphasis needs to be put on improving law enforcement’s monitoring of the internet, especially the ugliest corners of the dark web where the demented foment hate and brag about their deadly plans. Platforms like Google, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter also need to step up their efforts to find, report and remove these types of posts.

Americans are fearful and sad that mass shootings occur with such frightening regularity. Now they are also angry that nothing meaningful has been done to get to the root causes of these massacres. We’re better than this. Aren’t we?





  1. Diane Dimond on August 12, 2019 at 3:25 pm

    Reader Dominick Burlone writes:

    Dear Diane,

    I read all of your columns with admiration because they are usually fair, balanced and reasonable. However, your recent column recommending gun proposals is off the deep end. Also, your ignorance about guns is showing.

    First, you make the typical media mistake of calling semiautomatic or auto-loading guns “automatic”. They are not. There is a difference and the difference is significant. There is no “return to a ban on automatic weapons” because the essential ban on automatic weapons of the 1930’s was never repealed. I know what you mean but I am just pointing out that you are technically inaccurate and incorrect and I hope we can eliminate this type of media carelessness.

    Your statement “….closing gun show loopholes ensuring that no person can get a same-day gun.” is more serious. Apparently, you don’t know how background checks work. Background checks are done on the spot and are completed in a matter of minutes so background checks will not “ensure that no person can get a same-day gun”.

    As for “..closer real-time monitoring of over-the-counter ammunition sales…, I remember having to sign for even a box of 22 LR cartridges when that policy was in effect after the 1968 Gun Control Act. That Act required dealers to keep a record of ammunition sales. That practice was abandoned first partially and then totally by the Firearm Owners Protection Act of 1986 because it was useless. Please learn your history and not be doomed to repeat it.

    Restricting “…the number of bullets in gun magazines” (by the way, they are called cartridges), stopping all internet sales of ammunition, allowing police to confiscate when no crime has been committed and encouraging law enforcement to monitor the internet all run counter-current to the America I know and love. Is there any limit on the amount of freedom we will trade for public safety or even the illusion of it? We must find out what is making our young people, sick, isolated and desperate before we throw away our precious babies with the bath water.

    I am sad to say that this is one instance where your fair and balanced reputation has taken a hit in my opinion.

    • Dennis Gareis on August 13, 2019 at 3:33 pm

      Good grief.If you are going to write about guns at least get your facts straight. Automatic weapons have been banned for sale to civilians since 1934. Columns like yours are why those opposed to additional gun laws don’t take gun control people seriously

      • Diane Dimond on August 13, 2019 at 5:21 pm

        Mr. Gareis,

        Here is a link to the history of the past, now expired ban on what the U.S. Congress called “assault weapons.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Federal_Assault_Weapons_Ban
        There is currently NO ban on what the U.S. Congress calls “assault weapons.” The confusion seems to be over the use of the word “Semi” as in semi-automatic weapons (or large capacity firing weapons.) You may make the distinction between those guns which are fully automatic and semi-automatic but the federal laws do not.
        I would add that no where in this article is a 1934 ban mentioned. But it is mentioned in this article, which gives an even more detailed history of the FULLY vs SEMI automatic weapons….and the old 1934 law which banned private citizens from owning FULLY automatic weapons, as well as hand grenades, bombs, etc.

        Diane Dimond

        • Anthony on August 14, 2019 at 1:02 pm

          Words mean things. Using the term “Automatic Weapons” is not accurate to describe any current civilian owned, semi-automatic rifle currently being debated. There is ample evidence that members of the gun control lobby purposely use this incorrect term in order to inflame passions, and manipulate public opinion by misleading the public. Mr Burlone above expertly points out other glaring errors in your article as well. If you want to editorialize and give your “common sense recommendations” then fine, but as a journalist you have a larger duty to give the real facts, not muddy and fake facts. // Your assessment is simply incorrect. and your subjective “deadly result” criteria is not only wrong, but it is laughable. Under that criteria, it would be possible to ban just about any semi-auto you want, and pump shotguns. So much for “shall not be infringed” huh?

          As for closing the so-called gun show loophole, no mass shooting that anyone has been grieving over recently has been committed with a gun purchased at a gun show without a background check.

          The Federal Assault Weapons Ban of the 90’s only banned multiple features of guns, NOT the guns themselves. Features like Bayonet Lugs, Telescoping Stocks, Muzzle Brakes, and pistol grips. Not a single assault rifle was banned from manufacture or possession or transfer under that ban. YOU are conflating semi-auto with automatic and YOU are conflating a long expired ban of cosmetic features with an actual ban.

          • Diane Dimond on August 15, 2019 at 9:08 pm

            I’ll give you even more of my opinion, if you’d like to hear it.
            I believe that sticking collective heads in the sand — and especially deflecting the need to do SOMETHING about mass shooters and gun deaths in this country by quibbling over Automatic and Semi-Automatic terminology — does no one any good. I have explained in a previous reply how and why “Automatic” is used…er, … so automatically when discussing the issue.
            I sure wish we could quit squabbling about relative minutiae and put our minds together to at least try to solve this continuing and deadly problem.
            Hurling insults solves nothing.

            Diane Dimond

        • Dennis Gareis on August 14, 2019 at 2:30 pm

          Dear Ms.Dimond, your response somewhat mixes the terms “assault weapon” with the terms automatic and semi-automatic weapons.I think at least we agree that fully automatic weapons like machine guns can not be sold to civilians.However semi-automatic weapons,one shot per trigger pull,are legal and have always been legal.Millions of semi-automatic shotguns and rifles have been used by hunters for decades.Then we have the ill-defined “assault weapon” term.Assume you are aware: AR stands for Armalite Rifle,the name of the company that makes the AR-15,not “assault rifle”.the AR is not made for military use,nor has it ever been used by the military.The AR is used only by hunters and target shooters due to it’s light weight.Again,a complete understanding of terms by all of us is needed to have a productive conversation.

  2. Diane Dimond on August 12, 2019 at 3:35 pm

    Reader Michael Baron PHD.

    Hi Diane,

    I think in many respects, we may be on the same page regarding gun control.

    As a psychologist, I recall the American Psychological Association coming out with a video, “Warning Signs” just a few days after Columbine in 1999. I used that training video in schools at that time.

    Of course blaming one person, Trump, is short-sighted, and, you are obviously correct that mass shootings have preceded and will follow Trump’s presidency.

    However, the number of mass shooting victims his first two years (2017-2018) marks a 30-fold increase over the average annual number of victims (1153 vs 41) during the previous five presidents’ tenures in office (1981-2016). And if the rate of carnage this one year is maintained, it will be a 50-fold increase (2219 vs 41). The suddenness of the rise goes beyond mere correlation.

    We need an Executive Rhetoric Readjustment. As that will not happen, legislation is our best Plan B. I’ve attached my recent letter to the President and photos of a chart, which once required one sheet, but now eight sheets, to contain all the data.


    Michael Baron, PhD
    Corrales, NM

    August 3, 2019,

    Dear Mr. President,

    In the face of El Paso’s tragedy, you tweeted today, “There are no reasons or excuses that will ever justify killing innocent people….” Justifications? No. Explanations? Possibly.

    How do you explain, not just an increase in annual mass shooting deaths and injuries since you became president, but a 30-fold increase in the annual rate of such deaths and injuries when we compare your first two years in office (2017-2018, 250 deaths and 903 injuries per year) with the previous nine presidential terms (1981-2016, Reagan to Obama, 20 deaths and 21 injuries annually)?

    How do you explain that this year alone, should the rate of mass shooting deaths and injuries during the first five months continue until year’s end, there will have been more deaths (387) and injuries (1,274) than during the 36 years of all previous five presidents combined? [August 4th update: Instead of the data through May 30, the data through El Paso and Dayton (August 4th) prorates to over 2,200 deaths plus injuries this year.]

    How do you explain your name being invoked in at least 17 criminal cases in connection with violent acts, threats of violence, or alleged assaults in just the first two years following your election? How do you explain the same investigation found no instances of George W. Bush’s or Barack Obama’s names being invoked during criminal acts when they were president during the previous 16 years?

    How do you explain the alleged killer of 50 people at two mosques earlier this year in New Zealand invoking your name, claiming in his manifesto that you are a “symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose”? How do you explain the near tripling of white supremacists’ propaganda efforts with about 400 incidents in the U.S. in 2017 to nearly 1,200 in 2018? How do you explain today’s alleged killer in El Paso having posted a screed against “immigrants” on social media just about an hour before he went on his killing spree? [August 4th update: Albuquerque Journal noted “Tweets on the [shooter’s] account had praised President Donald Trump and, in particular, his effort to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.]

    Words matter. They can provoke and incite tragedy. The First Lady has advocated against bullying. Name calling, such as “Rocket Man,” can bring us to the brink and have catastrophic consequences.

    In the 20 years since the Columbine tragedy, there have been a number of suggestions made by which to reduce gun violence. Here are a half dozen supported by the majority of Americans:

    1. Background checks for private and gun show sales.

    2. Prevent people with mental illness from purchasing guns.

    3. Ban on high-capacity ammunition clips.

    4. Ban on assault-style weapons.

    5. Create a federal database to track gun sales.

    6. Bar gun purchases by people on the federal no-fly or watch lists.

    “Red flag” laws have also shown promise in making a difference. A red flag law, now in 17 states, attempts to prevent gun violence by permitting police or family members to petition the courts to order a temporary removal of guns from a household member who may be a danger to others or themselves. Connecticut and Indiana’s red flag laws, combined, have helped reduce firearm suicide rates by 10%. If we can reduce gun suicide by 10% nationally, that’s about 2,500 saved lives each year. With these other suggestions, we can have still greater impact.

    Please temper the rhetoric, mourn with a one month’s break from Twitter, confer with a diversity of your colleagues, and forge a new constructive direction so desperately needed for our country.


    Michael Baron

  3. Diane Dimond on August 13, 2019 at 1:20 am

    Reader Robert Tepper writes:

    Dear Diane:

    Read your column in Saturday’s Albu. Journal. Coincidence…I had a lengthy discussion two days before concerning today’s societal problems and much of it from my side was exactly the same points as you made in your column. So hopefully, there are many more of us who are thinking likewise.

    I enjoy your columns and most of the time am in agreement with your thoughts. Keep up the good work.


    Robert Tepper
    Albuquerque, NM

  4. Diane Dimond on August 13, 2019 at 1:25 am

    Reader Karen Devereaux Scioscia writes:

    “Leadership begins in the home. Where are the mothers? The fathers?”

  5. Diane Dimond on August 13, 2019 at 5:29 pm

    Reader John Stilwell writes:

    Wanted: Leaders to stop Fake News and propaganda. Every article and story printed should be fact checked by the government and a civilian review board. And false info or propaganda is a felony punishable with up to 25 years to life in jail. All articles must be 150 to 200 words. Anything over that is illegal, 10 year felony.///

    President Donald J. Trump: We The People request new laws be placed on articles and “news”. We want it to be a felony if they print or telecast lies. No automatic gun or rifle has been used in a “mass shooting”. Limiting the rounds in a magazine will not stop a nut job. And we already have background checks. Everything the leftist suggest would not have stopped any of the “mass shootings”.

    • Diane Dimond on August 13, 2019 at 5:33 pm

      Mr. Stilwell,

      I am of the opinion that it is disingenuous to claim that “No automatic gun or rifle has been used in a mass shooting.”
      Like a previous reader you are conflating FULLY AUTOMATIC with SEMI AUTOMATIC. The federal law refers to semi-automatic weapons (those with the capacity to deliver a high volume of bullets in a short period of time) simply as “automatic weapons.” They deliver just as deadly a result as the FULLY automatic weapon.
      Indeed (semi) automatic weapons HAVE been used in many mass shootings here in America over the last decade.
      Diane Dimond

      • Anthony on August 14, 2019 at 1:25 pm

        Your assessment is simply incorrect. and your subjective “deadly result” criteria is not only wrong, but it is laughable. Under that criteria, it would be possible to ban just about any semi-auto you want, and pump shotguns. So much for “shall not be infringed” huh?

        As for closing the so-called gun show loophole, no mass shooting that anyone has been grieving over recently has been committed with a gun purchased at a gun show without a background check.

        The Federal Assault Weapons Ban of the 90’s only banned multiple features of guns, NOT the guns themselves. Features like Bayonet Lugs, Telescoping Stocks, Muzzle Brakes, and pistol grips. Not a single assault rifle was banned from manufacture or possession or transfer under that ban. YOU are conflating semi-auto with automatic and YOU are conflating a long expired ban of cosmetic features with an actual ban.

  6. Diane Dimond on August 13, 2019 at 5:44 pm

    Reader John Sands writes:

    Interesting take on mass shootings. Too bad you and every other opinion writer, talking head and politician can’t see the forest for the trees.

    Almost every mass shooting could have been easily stopped if the friends, family, authorities, workers, etc, had simply done their due diligence by reacting to the numerous “red flags.” None of them came out of the blue.

    Parkland: friends, authorities, school officials, etc.
    Dayton: friends, school officials, family, etc
    Las Vegas: hotel workers
    El Paso: family
    Sandy Hook: family, school officials

    The list could go on forever: .friends, authorities, workers and family don’t let unstable individuals remain unmonitored. As to banning weapons, then only criminals will have them and they certainly won’t turn them in. We have 2ND Amendment rights for a reason: to allow ourselves to protection against political oppression. Or do you enjoy Tiananmen Square? And don’t be so naive to believe it can’t happen here.

    • Diane Dimond on August 13, 2019 at 5:48 pm

      Mr. Sands,

      I have written several columns (including this one) regarding the “red flags” family, friends, classmates, etc. saw in mass shooters before the killings occurred….Just search this site with search term “Mass Shoot”.

      Also, no where (including in this column) have I ever urged doing away with the 2nd amendment nor have I ever called for a “banning (of) weapons.”

      Last note: naive is something I am definitely not.

      Diane Dimond

      • Anthony on August 14, 2019 at 1:36 pm

        And given today’s cultural divide, how do we stop the real risk of many many people with personal vendetta’s or hatred from using Red Flag laws to punish the innocent?

        Or is that just another price of having more safety?

        Red Flag gun bans, Secret terrorism watch list gun bans, Gun bans for seniors who simply hire a financial administrator(Which even the ACLU was opposed to) All assume criminality or mental illness without initially respecting Constitutional due process. Are you proud of that or is it ok because it only involves that pesky 2nd Amendment?

      • Anthony on August 14, 2019 at 1:40 pm

        You never called for a banning of weapons, except for that time in your column that you called for a banning of weapons. LOL

        Since you’re not against the 2A, what “deadly results for humans” weapons do you think Americans should be able to own for self-defense?

  7. Larry on August 14, 2019 at 4:14 pm

    The article was not too bad. There are many good responses what to do, many thing contribute to the mass shootings. Not too many years ago we did not have this problem. I grew up un a smaller town and students would keep rifles in their cars and trucks during school to go hunting after school. Society has changed and due to politics no one wants to agree with the other side.
    I see on the news DC has a lot of shootings, but they are strict non gun laws. Criminals are a problem.

    There are some items that you need to clarify on. There is a difference between a semi automatic and an automatic, Since the 1980’s civilians can no longer buy a new automatic weapon, since the 30’s you had to have a special permit. But if you ban automatics, that will cover semi automatic handguns, shotguns, semi automatic rifles that are used for hunting.
    You did post clarification “Reports, like those from ABC reporter Terry Moran, that machine guns are perfectly legal in Nevada and other states are highly misleading. ” from the Federalist.

    Teens today are joining gangs and we need to work harder on it

    This is another big item, they are going into gangs and pressured into proving themselves.

    Even just saying assault weapons should be banned is not clear, what is an assault weapon? An AR15 is a great rifle because it can be easily changed to a different caliber from .17 to hand gun rounds and hunting rounds, there are about 50 different calibers that it can be changed to or bought as for competition, hunting or self defense.

    1. Background checks for private and gun show sales.

    If you buy a gun from a dealer at a gun show you must do a background check, its a federal law.

    2. Prevent people with mental illness from purchasing guns.

    Pres Obama passed a bill that banned people with mental illness from buying a gun, that covered a lot including eating disorders. The ACLU was against this also.
    Yes mental health, but how to define it and not punish everyone


    3. Ban on high-capacity ammunition clips.

    Magazines, A clip is a different item. Why? You can reload a 15 round or 10 round magazine very quickly. Most time theses shootings come up, the laws that are proposed would not have stopped it

    4. Ban on assault-style weapons.

    Semi-automatic rifles able to accept detachable magazines and two or more of the following:
    Folding or telescoping stock
    Pistol grip
    Bayonet mount
    Flash hider or threaded barrel designed to accommodate one
    Grenade launcher

    During the ban the manufacturers got rid of Bayonet, Flash hider Grenade launcher (No idea why they put one on), folding stock. So after that it only had the pistol grip, they sold the same rifles during the ban.

    Also this is an AK47 with no pistol grip, the only thing it had on the definition is a removable magazine

    5. Create a federal database to track gun sales.

    This creates a gun registration. owning a gun is a right. If you own a car it has to be registered, it is not a right. When we see registrations confiscation follows.

    6. Bar gun purchases by people on the federal no-fly or watch lists.

    If you ban someone that is on the no fly list they have not been found guilty of something, no due process. Ted Kennedy was on the no fly list at one time. Even the UCLA agreed t was wrong.

    There are newer problems in society. Where are the parents? Working. Stop and frisk works but it is illegal. One state had police asking why someone was in a neighborhood, crime dropped but it was found illegal.
    We need mentors for kids, look for signs, schools are not able to handle issue because of teacher shortages and turnover.
    Movies, videos. I was in EEO and we had police doing presentations on gangs. They have members that have no record join the military, get training and bring it back to them.

    Gun owners are always under attack and we see it in different states and countries. When an article comes out we worry about information that is misleading.

    Did you know you need a special permit to own a pump shotgun in Australia?

    And when we hear someone say “Common sense gun laws” we know it will not be good.

    Thank you for posting sources

  8. Anthony on August 15, 2019 at 7:43 pm

    I first saw this editorial in my local Washington Observer newspaper. Yes I’m one of those old fashioned types who still likes the feel of a paper in my hands when reading editorials. I was happy to have the opportunity to anonymously respond here to your support of the misguided gun ban ethos of the far left. But it appears that all of my recent effective rebuttals to your badly researched propaganda have been deleted. Disappointed but not surprised. Pure emotion over substance and facts wins again. Good luck with your “journalism”.

  9. Diane Dimond on August 19, 2019 at 2:16 pm

    Reader Gunhild Vetter writes:

    Hi Diane,

    We need a leader who will do what he/she says they will do. Someone who has their feet on the ground and not someone who says things that are unrealistic. Many of the candidates in the Democrat party for president today think that socialism is the way our country should go. They have no background in the history of our country and so do not appreciate the great country we live in.

    In 1961 when I first registered to vote as a democrat, it was a completely different party. JFK was president and the statement he made that changed some of us was “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country”. Today it is more like what can my country do for me not what I can do for my country.

    The candidates today are victims of a failed education system and the promise that Nitita Khrushchev made in a speech at the UN General Assembly years ago.
    Khrushchev said that the Soviet Union would destroy the United States without a shot and that they would destroy the US from within. In the 1960s socialist professors started to brainwash our youth and destroy the history of our country by eliminating our past. It only takes one generation to destroy a culture and that is what we are seeing with the generation now running for president. The Democrats are worried about Russia interfering with our elections and they are right, what they don’t realize is that they are what the Russians will use to destroy our nation from within if any of them are elected.

    President Trump may say and tweet some off the wall things but if we follow what he is doing and saying he at least does what he says he will do. I often wonder what could have been accomplished if they all could have worked together these past 2-3 years instead of wasting time and money doing stupid stuff. I am hoping that President Trump will be around for another term and that he can finish draining the swamp.

  10. Diane Dimond on August 19, 2019 at 2:51 pm

    Reader Maddy writes:



    – Factor Opioids/Drugs

  11. Diane Dimond on August 19, 2019 at 2:51 pm

    Reader Ben Williams writes:

    The main reason is mental health. The mental health is caused by many things today. Parents who let video games and the internet raise their kids. Teachers who preach hate against their God and Country. Media that glorifies all things anti trump anti white.

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