Monday, October 5, 2015

The First Step to Reducing Mass Gun Violence

This may sound random but the first step that must be taken in order to reduce the kind of mass gun violence such the crime perpetrated  recently in Roseberg, Oregon, and the ongoing everyday slaughter of Americans by guns is an obvious step and yet it is a step almost no one ever suggests when asked about the problem.  The step is - Campaign Finance Reform.

Right now I am sure many readers are nodding in recognition of this simple, obvious and never spoken of truth!

There is no chance anything can change if lobbying efforts and campaign donations continue to influence elected officials one way or the other on the issue of gun control and any other issue where billions and billions of dollars are at stake.  Gun control is not even remotely the issue that is most influenced by donations and lobbying; health care has that distinction, followed by the military industrial complex, and competes with numerous other lobbies, including agriculture, banks, union activists, anti-union activists and, well just about everything that involves profits or paychecks.  If  you want to know why the obvious never gets done in the U.S. despite the overwhelming desire of a vast majority of Americans, the explanation starts with the way we finance political campaigns.

The things that need to be done are pretty obvious; eliminate all donations over a modest dollar amount that almost any American could afford to donate and yet would be too small by itself or in total to influence an elected official.  That could be as low as $100 for a Senator or House Representative.  If a  candidate obtains a threshold number of donations they then qualify for public financing that would dwarf what they could raise privately $100 at a time, and that is all the would be allowed to spend, period.

All other donations would be considered attempted bribes, which in reality, is exactly what they are.

Independent fundraising PACs may not be possible to eliminate BUT they should be held accountable for mis-information and can be sued as an institution and the suit should extend to donors as well if a Court finds that they lied or libeled a candidate or lied about an issue.  Currently, as far as I know, PACs can accept donations privately and tell any lie they choose with impunity and face no consequences, or at least they have faced no consequences so far.  Perhaps criminal liability for someone within a PAC who interfered with an election by promoting false information to the Public would do the trick.  The difference from the  average citizen who ignorantly spread lies is money - the PAC was paid to spread the lies, an average voter was just expressing an incorrect opinion. The difference is the monetary motive.

In any other business, if a product causes damage or is defective, the producer of the product is liable.  If the producer of the product knowingly sold a defective or dangerous product, the producer is criminally liable, or should be.  PACs should be treated no differently.

The next thing to do would be to institute term limits at every level of government, generally 8 years for executives, 12 years for legislators and 20 years for judges.

Then we can outlaw gerrymandering and, instead, with computers we can draw electoral districts objectively.

Finally we can stop trying to pass laws restricting voting rights aimed at the voters of the opposition party.

ONLY at that point can the intractable problems of gun violence, health care, the deficit and so on can even be thought about.  My proof is the current state of affairs.