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Should we go beyond background checks to avoid mass shootings?

Dr. Christine Seals speaks during a news conference at Umpqua Community College on Oct. 5 in Roseburg, Ore. The campus reopened on a limited basis for faculty and students for the first time since armed suspect Chris Harper-Mercer killed multiple people and wounded several others on Thursday before taking his own life at Snyder Hall. (AP Photo/John Locher)
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One way to stop shooting rampages like the one in Oregon is to make a personal decision to be the hero.

“I would not just stand there and let him shoot me,” Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson said. “I would say, ‘Hey guys, everybody attack him, he may shoot me but he can’t get us all.'”

Related: Who we should really be talking about after the Oregon college shooting

But Dr. Carson didn’t just talk about attacking the gunman, he also also proposed a way to keep that gunman from getting a gun in the first place.

“We need to be studying these individuals, being able to figure out who is the dangerous person so we can intervene.”

That’s a gutsy position for a conservative to take because it means gathering information on people who have not yet broken the law in order to deny them a weapon.
Of course, the big question is how to determine who is truly dangerous.

And I would suggest that a good place to start would be the gun shops because one of the essential ingredients to becoming a dangerous person is arming yourself.

So suppose, for example, that gun dealers actually required references? And also insisted on talking to the customer’s family before the sale? They might find out the guy hasn’t been taking his medicine. They might turn up online rants expressing admiration for mass murderers. In which case they would do the responsible thing and politely decline to sell the weapon.

If the gun shops agreed on that approach voluntarily, they would be the heroes, and the government wouldn’t have to get involved at all.

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