Gun Control: Stop Bitching and Start a Resolution

This article is for you, whether you’re a gun owner or not. Most of us want realistic, responsible, workable gun control regulations.

Most of us are willing to find some middle ground, realizing that gun violence has long ago reached epidemic proportions, and that the NRA’s answer (“We’re all gonna die if there’s any gun control at all”) is both pathetic and dishonest.

On the other extreme, “Ban all guns like Australia” just isn’t gonna fly here in America, so proponents need to work with the gun culture and history that’s here — in this country.

Which is to say, if you’re on either extreme of the firearms spectrum, this article is probably not for you, so stop reading now. Reasonable people, please continue.

In this article, I try to articulate some realistic, tough, but fair solutions to the problems with firearms in the country. Even recently-deceased “originalist” Justice Antonin Scalia sees plenty of room in the Second Amendment for regulation: news.yahoo.com/…

My propositions are based on the difference between “self-defense,” hunting, “sportsmanship,” and a “one-man army” or seditious “militia.” Firearms are by their nature, extremely dangerous. They are made to be dangerous. Therefore, they should be treated with special care, regulation, and attention to the public safety.

People should have a right to own a firearm for hunting, self-defense, or sport if they so wish. What people should not have the right to is an arsenal of weapons of war.

We’ve gone far off the rails in the last 40 years from the way we used to think about guns and “freedom” in this country. In fact, the extreme interpretations of the Second Amendment that are part of this conversation on the “pro-gun” side have been very recent, and have primarily been a defrauding of the American public by gun manufacturers through their lobbying agent, the NRA. (See Supreme Court Justice Stevens’ article at: www.washingtonpost.com/…)

Here’s a list of rules I’ve come up with that tries to provide a reasonable avenue to gun ownership, while addressing the need to have strong regulation for instruments that were manufactured for one purpose: to kill.

This is by no means an exhaustive set of rules, but, a clear picture of what the outlines of effective, fair, and tough regulation could look like.

The Basics:

  • A “standard” type weapon should be considered a handgun, rifle, or shotgun that carries no more than 9 rounds, fired one at a time, with no characteristics of assault weapons (seeen.wikipedia.org/…)
  • Strict enforcement of current unregistered firearms laws.
  • A background check for every gun sale, which includes other members of the household. Homes with people who are mentally ill, have records of assault, etc., must be given special scrutiny, and either denied a license or show specific means of safeguarding the firearms from those household members.
  • No household or individual with a record of assault of any kind can own a gun beyond the “standard” type for 3-5 years, or more than one firearm. Continued ownership is only allowed for one incident of the “random skirmish” variety. Someone with a history of domestic violence, a pattern of assault and aggressive behavior, etc., should not be allowed a firearm until they’ve proven a change for a period of several years.

Licensing & Liability:

  • A standard gun license allows for “standard” type weapons. A standard license must be gotten for each firearm, and this level allows no more than three firearms in the home.
  • All gun owners must carry a minimum of a $100,000 liability insurance for each “standard” firearm. Special guns or accessories require increasing amounts of insurance depending on the dangerousness.
  • Licenses can be expanded for various reasons, including being a “collector.” In short, the more guns, the more lethal, the more scrutiny, deeper background check, and liability insurance.
  • Each firearm will be entered into a national database of firearms.
  • Ammunition purchases must also be entered into that database. A standard license entitles the licensee to have no more than 50 rounds of ammunition at any time in the house.
  • Perhaps some flexibility for additional ammunition, or special weapons being kept in a secure locker at a gun range, where that range will be licensed to keep these special weapons.
  • Parents should be both criminally and civilly liable for the actions of their under-18 children with their firearms.

Mental Health:

  • Mental health facilities must request a firearm license check on individuals who are hospitalized for mental illness and share results with local law enforcement, who may confiscate the firearms temporarily depending on the psychiatric findings. (Believe it or not, this is not already law in some places.)
  • (Also in “The Basics” section): Homes with people who are mentally ill, have records of assault, etc., must be given special scrutiny, and either denied a license or show specific means of safeguarding the firearms from those household members.

Sales:

  • Firearm sales can only be made by a registered firearms dealer, period. All private sales will need to be conducted with a registered dealer present to facilitate the sale. Buying a firearm should be more regulated and security-conscious than buying a car.
  • No online or magazine gun or ammunition sales, with exceptions for collectors, as defined below.
  • Combat-type Body armor must be illegal, period. There is no reason for ordinary citizens to have access to this.
  • Bulletproof vests, etc., must be licensed and are subject to a background check.
  • No magazines to hold more than 9 rounds, with exceptions for collectors, who are specially licensed, checked, and insured.
  • This closes all the loopholes for background checks, gun shows, online sales, etc.

Safety:

  • Guns must be kept in safes in homes where children are, even where children visit. Weapons that are readily accessible for home defense must have trigger locks, biometrics, or other security to protect children.
  • If a firearm leaves the licensed owner’s possession, they can be liable for criminal negligence and penalties whether it is used in a crime or not.
  • All firearms must have safeties to prevent accidental discharge. If your existing gun does not, one must be installed, with certain exceptions to be determined.

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Start a Resolution:

Print this out and mail it to your congresspeople and senators, telling them that these are the kind of specific gun regulations you support. Or write your own list. Either way, do it now.

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I hope this list of regulatory ideas helps pro-regulation folks to better articulate what specifically they’d do to reduce the violence, and helps pro-gun folks feel more comfortable with realistic gun regulation.

What are your thoughts?

 

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