Donald Trump’s strategy for preventing school shootings includes the lurid policies of arming school teachers with guns and “hardening” schools against attack. But while the president backed away from raising age limits for buying some guns on Sunday, the president is also endorsing some policies with scientific evidence behind them – a small sign of progress in America’s deadlocked gun control debate.
As part of his new school safety plan, Trump called on states to pass laws creating “extreme risk protection orders”, a new kind of gun control measure that has been gathering increasing support from Republicans since the Florida shooting.
Five years ago, after the Newtown massacre at Sandy Hook elementary school, mental health experts and gun violence researchers came together to discuss what it would mean to prevent mass shootings in a data-driven way, and without stigmatizing people with mental illness.
One of their major proposals was the creation of this new kind of restraining order, which would give law enforcement officials the authority to temporarily confiscate firearms from people at risk of harming themselves or other people.
Many of America’s gun control policies are designed to prevent horrific mass shootings, rather than the everyday gun violence that claims the majority of lives. More than 50 Americans die each day from gun suicide, a toll that represents about two-thirds of America’s total gun deaths.
Too often, America’s gun debate moves in circles, arguing whether one policy or another would have prevented the most recent high-profile shooting, rather than which policy would do the most good overall. Policies that would have very little relevance to America’s broader gun violence problem – like the…