Thoughts on Gun Violence

Robin Buckley
5 min readMay 26, 2022

I have worked in the mental health field since I earned my PhD in clinical psychology back in 2001 including working in schools as a school psychologist. I am also a gun owner. When I bought my first gun, I remember going into Cabella’s and after a one-hour process, including the currently defined “background check”, I was shocked to walk out with a handgun.

It felt like I walked back to my car holding a ticking timebomb.

I kept wondering how it was possible for someone who had never touched a gun to own one in 60 minutes. The background check had no consideration of my mental state, no thorough review of my history because, honestly, how could that possibly be done in 60 minutes?

I went home and signed up for a class on gun use and safety. I applied for my license in two states, even though in one of the states it wasn’t required. I joined the NRA, naively thinking that this organization supported the same guidelines I did regarding safety and responsible ownership. Then I learned how far from the truth that was and backed away from any connection to the organization that is clearly part of the problem.

I’ve read the thoughts of equally angry and sad people on social media following the horrific murders in Uvalde, Texas. I understand we are all trying to make sense of something that is so senseless, but many of the “solutions” verbalized are reactive, short-term ideas, not proactive options for permanent change.

Arming already overworked educators who already take on more roles than their academic programs prepared them for is not an answer. We ask them to be perfect teachers who also act as therapists, parents, health instructors, crisis managers, nutritionists, cheerleaders, all while they are being attacked, disrespected, and underpaid. Asking them to now be soldiers is incomprehensible. If you want to continue to reduce the number of teachers in the profession, continue to ask more from them than we should.

Putting armed security, bulletproof glass, and other intensive security measures in schools are options but not cures. My 17-year-old came home from school this week and I asked if she and her friends talked about the shooting in Texas, and if they came up with any ideas. Her response was that they decided all schools should be locked down between 8am-3pm every day. This might help in some situations, but how sad that our kids need to be locked up to feel some measure of safety? And while these ideas might have some effect in reducing violence in the school districts which can afford these measures, it doesn’t stop the shootings in churches, grocery stores, and other public settings.

These are band aides trying to close the massive wound gun violence is eviscerating America with. It’s like curing cancer by giving a patient Advil to help the headache rather than treating the brain tumor.

Some politicians point to the mental health crisis as the sole reason for gun violence. This is certainly part of the problem and a related conversation needs to be on the mental health system and stigma in America. If you annually check in with your dentist, physician, GYN, optometrist or any other physical health professional, ask yourself why you and your loved ones don’t do the same in regard to your mental health. It isn’t different and until we accept mental wellness as essential for societal wellness, we will continue to struggle as a country. But as much as some individuals want this to be the “fix” for gun violence, it is only part of the solution.

The gun violence in America is a complex problem that we can fix, but we need representatives who put human life, and specifically, the lives of children before all else, especially their own power and money. We need representatives who focus on the real problem of common sense gun laws rather than distracting us with fear of the removal of rights, all the while picking and choosing which rights they will grant and who they will allow to have them. This can happen with the inclusion of six steps to the gun ownership process:

· Background checks need to be more extensive. And until complete, you don’t get a gun.

· Psychological evaluations need to be part of the gun purchasing process. And until complete, you don’t get a gun.

· Passing a proficiency test which includes taking a class on gun safety must be part of the process. And until you pass (85% minimum), you don’t get a gun.

· Registration and licensing at the state level in which a person lives, and federally closing the loopholes regarding people who move to keep their criminal records disconnected from their licensing registration should be part of the process.

· License renewal every two years which includes a new background check, a new psychological evaluation, new testing, and updated registration and licensing, or you don’t keep the gun.

If all this sounds too hard, then of course it is a person’s choice not to do them and then NOT OWN A GUN. If they try to manipulate around these laws, when they get caught their right to ever own a gun should be permanently revoked.

Gun ownership is too easy. Guns are weapons and should be respected as such.

What is truly amazing is that America doesn’t need to invent a new process and wait to see if it works. American politicians can look to countries such as Australia which implemented a new approach to gun ownership after massacres like the ones America is experiencing on an almost weekly basis. Take what those countries have done and apply it in our own country. Businesses implement effective strategies that have been successful for other businesses. Why can’t the same approach work for America to stop the hemorrhaging of its citizens, its children, and its culture?

On an individual level, it is important to break the state of desensitization that we, as Americans, have been numbed into. Mass shootings are happening at a rate which is creating a sense of normalcy and, of course, IT IS NOT NORMAL. And while these massacres aren’t normal, sadly, they are typical. While moving forward and living our lives is an important part of healing, forgetting these murders until the next one happens perpetuates the cycle. Allowing these massacres to be part of our lives and the lives of our children is not an attitude which will create change. We must re-sensitize ourselves into awareness. Start asking questions. Have respectful conversations, particularly the hard ones and especially with those whose ideas are different than ours. Challenge our representatives. Vote for representatives who support reform. Use our purchasing power to influence organizations which also align with reform.

Essentially, we can choose through our actions and words to be part of the solution rather than contributing to the problem. This is how we re-engage and change what we consider “normal” for ourselves and our children. And then, hopefully, our representatives will remember who they are as humans, as parents, as neighbors, and as citizens to follow our lead.



Robin Buckley

A cognitive-behavioral coach with a Ph.D. in clinical psychology, Dr. Robin Buckley helps executive women and couples thrive in their careers and relationships.