Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook, Orlando–what do they have in common?  Someone to pull the trigger that’s what.  Guns are inanimate objects.  They can’t shoot people on their own.  A sobering reminder for everyone out there regardless of whether you are a supporter of gun control or not.

So where’s the common ground between the gun lovers and the gun haters in all of this?  Well, the way things have been going there hasn’t been any.  While people die in greater and greater numbers we continue to engage in a battle of nothing but political soundbites. One thing you can bet on in all of this is another two weeks or so of hearing from the politicians and the media saying what a tragedy in Orlando.

Another thing you can bet on is that there will be absolutely no real talk about solving the problem.  No solutions just soundbites about how we have to take away all the guns so bad people won’t shoot anyone.  But the sad reality is that whether you believe in the Second Amendment or not, the bad guys are always going to find the guns they want legally or otherwise.

Instead of dealing with the tough reality that there will always be someone out there capable of doing what Seung-Hui Cho did at Virginia Tech, what Adam Lanza did at Sandy Hook and what Omar Mateen just did in Orlando yesterday morning, we are masters at sidestepping any real solutions.  But the talk of our politicians is becoming very cheap.  Solving the problem of mass violence is a multi-disciplinary undertaking that takes some hard thinking to come up with solutions.  There is no easy single track solution for dealing with sick human beings who want to hurt people.

I have been at this deadly game of trying to find solutions to prevent mass violence for a long time.  I’ve studied everything I could get my hands on.  My goal wasn’t to produce more political soundbites.  It was all about finding the real solutions to the escalating problem of mass violence in the United States.

That’s why I have written this simple five step plan of action in the hopes that someone out there has some simple common sense.  It’s less than two pages long.  A simple, straightforward way to bring the multidisciplinary expertise the nation needs together to prevent and, when necessary, vastly improve our responses to acts of mass violence.  Politicians on both sides of the gun control issue don’t have to do any hard thinking.  Instead, all they have to do is follow this plan to curb mass violence in America.  To the politicians we say, just do it!

The Plan: Step One

Be apolitical. There are very smart people on both sides of the gun control issue.  The time is long past when the Executive Branch and the Congress of the United States need to start doing their jobs.  If no common ground exists between those who oppose and those who promote gun control we need to find it. To the next President we say establish a mind trust of smart independent thinkers on all sides of the issue to review, modify as necessary and implement this plan. Fewer political soundbites and more action.

Step Two

Be multi-disciplinary.  The brain trust must be chartered to bring together the brightest minds available across multiple disciplines including the social sciences, psychology, education, law, first responders, the medical community and the private sector where most people work, shop and play.

Step Three

Be technology savvy.  We live in the age of big data and computers. The implications are both good and bad.  The brain trust must determine the appropriate balance between the “need to know” and the Constitutional rights of all Americans and clearly establish and follow the rules of the road that both sides on the gun control issue can agree upon.  The data is there.  It’s all about finding the common ground necessary to use it to save American lives.

Step Four

Use only the best science.  In 2006, something called predictive analytics was developed at the George Washington University.  Today, using computers, we can scour all of the information on the internet and gather and analyze any act or threatened act of mass violence 24-7.  In this way, we can develop and project patterns of human behavior to better prevent acts of mass violence before they happen.  We can also share the lessons learned from past acts of mass violence to prevent and improve our responses to future ones.

Step Five

Look for the human tripwires.  Without human beings we wouldn’t have a mass violence problem. It’s all about people.  We must work on strengthening the social network to better identify and provide the help people need before acts of mass violence occur.  We can and must do a better job of being sensitive and acting upon the indicators and warnings of mental illness without stigmatizing the people we are trying to help.


John's Signature

John Hnatio, EdD, PhDJohn

Executive Director

Institute for Complexity Management

Investigating Complex Issues