One exercise I do in my failure workshops that’s always a surprise hit is ‘Stupid Solutions to Big Problems’. We form teams and brainstorm stupid solutions to huge, urgent, seemingly intractable problems. It’s strangely cathartic, and often the weirdest, wildest ideas are actually kind of great.

I bring this up because today, once again, I am confronted by a horrifying, endlessly repeating problem: gun violence.

And I cannot bear to see the same old helpless questions and dialogues and discussions and nothing happen in response.

So I thought: why don’t I brainstorm some stupid solutions? At least it will distract me from the sheer awfulness for a while. And so I present to you:

STUPID SOLUTIONS TO A BIG PROBLEM: the gun violence edition

  1. Mandatory support groups for all gun owners to talk about their feelings. Like you can’t buy a gun unless you attend two meetings involving group hugs, crying it out and learning how to speak your anger.
  1. Someone hire clowns to trail the NRA and freak them out until they do something about this. Clowns with guns? Is that too much? Can’t be worse than what we already have.
  1. Stop talking to any friends with guns until they shut down the fucking NRA.
  1. This might be a good idea actually – can we boycott the NRA? Obviously the NRA doesn’t give a shit if I boycott them, but could responsible gun owners boycott the NRA? Would you do that, guys? Would you boycott hunting – refuse to buy any hunting gear, licenses, guns and whatever else you buy when you hunt until the NRA backs down and legislation is passed?
  1. Fine anyone who sells a gun to a mass shooter a million dollars. Like the OLCC does for bartenders who serve alcohol to someone who goes on to get in a drunk driving accident.

Here’s what the OLCC says:

Q: What will happen to me if I allow a visibly intoxicated person to continue to drink alcohol?

A: You could be fined and your license or service permit suspended. Repeated violations could lead to the cancellation of your license or service permit. In addition, you could be held liable in a third party liability law suit if the visibly intoxicated person injures another person or damages someone else’s property.

OK, call me stupid, but couldn’t we do the exact same thing if someone sells a gun to a shooter? Just swap out ‘visibly intoxicated’ with ‘visibly planning to shoot someone’.

  1. Give mass shooters an infantilizing nickname and never use their actual picture, instead use a cartoon image that makes them look ridiculous, like this:

Lots of Kids Dead in Mass Shooting by Loony Lardface


Fantastic. Well, I feel a little less consumed by rage and horror. If you have some stupid ideas to share, I would love to hear them!


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