There are a couple stories I've been following in the news recently that I have been thinking outside the box on. First, there is health care reform.
One of the biggest concerns people have expressed about the Affordable Care Act is the 'individual mandate', that is, the penalty that is imposed on people not getting health insurance. The response is that everyone will eventually need health care, so the mandate is an effort to compel people not to be freeloaders until they need it.
There are various reasons why this is a concern. Currently, health costs are a leading contributor to personal bankruptcies. The costs of uninsured people receiving medical treatment at emergencies gets passed on to all of us. With the Affordable Care Act, insurance companies cannot deny people insurance who have pre-existing conditions. For that matter, people that don't get health care when they need it, end up costing more when they get it, so people without health insurance are likely to drive up the costs of Medicare.
With all of this, are there other ways to compel people to get health insurance? For example, what if once the Affordable Care Act is in effect, medical debts are could not be discharged for people in bankruptcy who have not gotten insurance? What if the changes for pre-existing coverage don't apply to people who fail to get coverage? What if people who fail to get coverage become ineligible for Medicare? Might this be a better way to get people into health insurance than the current penalties?
Moving on to the Trayvon WIlliams case. George Zimmerman was part of a Neighborhood Watch organization, essentially providing private policing of a community. What if he had been a real police officer? Many law enforcement agencies have firearm discharge review boards. Whenever an officer discharges his firearm, there policies and procedures to be followed. In most cases, George Zimmerman's situation would have been reviewed much more thoroughly if he had been a police officer. Maybe we need to apply these standards to any 'Stand Your Ground' case, any case of a Neighborhood Watch volunteer, or similar cases.
Finally, here is Woodbridge, there is talk of a gun shop opening soon. Various members of the community are concerned about this, especially since it is planned to go in very close to a teen center. However, Woodbridge doesn't appear to have any zoning regulations that would prevent this, and you can't put in a zoning change after the fact.
However, could the citizen's of Woodbridge learn from those fighting against abortions? What if, just as there are laws being suggested that women who want an abortion need to have an ultrasound first, how about if anyone wanting to buy a gun in Woodbridge had to get a colonoscopy first? That would probably put a damper on gun sales. It might also improve the health outlooks for people who do buy guns.
Of course, some might ask what buying a gun has to do with a colonoscopy. I'll leave that connection for opponents of gun sales, who wonder where a gun buyer's head must be at, to come up with the connection.
For something less invasive, perhaps a simple blood test for lead levels as well as for hearing would be appropriate. A 2005 report in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report found elevated levels of lead in various members of shooting teams in Alaska. The CDC has a blog post about Solutions for Preventing Lead Poisoning and Hearing Loss at Indoor Firing Ranges