In the wake of the Sandy Hook massacre the question of gun control has come up once again. Sure, we can’t blame people, or guns, or bullets, so I guess the onus falls on firing pins, and they’re the real villains.
What I’ve seen on political discussion sites, including /r/politics on Reddit, is an awful lot of hate for common sense approaches to even the most modest, incremental steps towards regulating guns in America.
The simple truth is that gun deaths in America are out of control. I haven’t seen a single serious solution from the right, nor anything from the left that would stand a remote chance of passage, so here are a few suggestions that would work, if we could ever just implement them, which we can’t.
Read the rest of our gun debate series here:
• Florida Teachers Take the Heat, Won’t Pack It
• Pro-gun Lobby Calls for State-Level Ban On Schools
• God Categorically Denies Telling Local Man to Shoot His Family
• Answer to Gun Control Problem; Americans Now Buying Chinese Guns
• Raise Your Hands For Gun Control! Then..Drop Your Pants!
• Sensible Gun-Control Proposals Obvious, Impossible
• The Proposed 2013 Great Gun Grab…Why Sen. Dianne Feinstein is Full of It
• NRA solves gun violence problem: Bullet-proof vests for every American
• The National Rifle Association Revises Its Proposal
• NRA Finds Just the Man for Their Propaganda Ministry
1 – Grant every American the right to muskets
The second amendment is open for debate. Folks on the the right would argue that it is very clear, and so would those on the left, they just disagree with what that clarity means.
What is known is that the founding fathers intended the constitution to be a living document, one flexible and ambiguous enough to be adapted for the times, and they did indeed live in very different times. Back then, French prostitutes were a death sentence, for one thing.
So let’s take them at the most pro-gun possibility interpretable. Let’s say that they intended for Americans to have the right to own unlimited guns. They meant muskets. Single shot, it takes quite a bit of work to pack even that single ball, it has a limited range, terrible accuracy, and requires a good 15-20 seconds to reload, assuming proficiency.
That’s still solid for close-quarters self defense. Best of all it would honor the spirit of what the founding fathers knew. It’s already been established that the 2nd amendment doesn’t extend to mortars, cannons or fully-automatic weapons, so this would just lower the bar on what we decide to denote as a strictly military armament.
The right to a well-regulated militia to keep and bear arms does not include tanks, grenades or drones. Those things didn’t exist back then, and we accept that.
This suggestions just makes so much sense that you can rest assured it will never happen, even though there is a vast, untapped market for muskets. Won’t anyone think of the small business owners?
2 – Require liability insurance on guns
I’ve read many editorials where gun ownership is likened to car ownership. Save for the fact the cars serve countless purposes other than taking a life and guns serve only one (target practice to make one more adept at taking a life,) I’m willing to follow this mental exercise a bit further.
If you have a car, you are required to purchase liability insurance to protect against the harm it may cause, if not used properly, never mind that using a gun properly exactly entails tremendous harm. We could likewise extend that same requirement to firearms. Possession of an uninsured firearm would land you in hot water, much like it would with a car.
If Jason is injured in a robbery, and we can trace the gun back to its owner, Jason should be able to get his medical bills paid by that insurance company. It’s only fair. If David accidentally dies in a hunting accident, his family should be provided for by a policy taken out by the shooter. Those children deserve as much.
You may have heard of safe driver insurance discounts. Well there would be safe gun-owner discounts too. Own a gun safe? Discount! Have trigger locks on your guns? Discount! Complete extra safety courses? Discount! Flo would have a fine time pushing these products, and it’s an untapped market.
The woman who owns a gun to protect herself would be insured at one rate, while the doomsday prepper with 100 guns would be charged at another rate. Adam Lanza’s mother, from whom the guns were stolen, was a doomsday prepper, and she should have been insured out the wazoo. Nothing can bring back those murdered children, but a high premium might have encouraged her to keep fewer death tools, and to keep them more secure.
Insurance makes too much sense, and even though requiring it would grow the economy, those with vested interests in selling forever more guns would never allow it.
3 – Require training and testing
Let’s continue with the car analogy. Everyone feels entitled to drive, and well they should, there are very few places in the country where you can live and work without a car. Cars are critical to employment and survival in the majority of the country.
We require training and testing to get a car, so lets require it with guns. How safe would you feel on the road if all it took to get a driver’s license was to complete a form and pay a fee? Or to compare it to the sale of shotguns or gun show loophole sales, if all they had to do was go and buy a car from a private party (at a dealership, still, obviously) and hop straight away on the road?
A safety and operations course of a good hundred hours or so would make gun owners more safe, more secure, and far less likely to die from their own weapon. It would also educate citizens about the legality of lethal force and cut down on all the bullshit ‘stand your ground’ murders that happen every year. And testing would ensure that the knowledge was absorbed.
Training and testing would not infringe on rights, but it will never come to pass because it would just make too damn much sense.
4 – License and tab guns like cars and boats
The constitution does not say that you have the right to a boat, but I think we can all agree that we should be allowed. Boats are dangerous. Boats are fast and can be used to kill, in the wrong hands. You are free to buy one boat or a hundred boats… but you have to license them.
If I want to own twenty cars, I am free to do so, provided I can afford to license them. If guns had tabs, like cars do, it would make me take a good hard look at my priorities and determine how many, if any, I really want to own.
Car tabs are used to pay for roads, police to enforce the roads and courts to adjudicate road use. Gun tabs could be used to fund police, emergency response from gun violence, prosecutors for gun crimes, prisons for gun offenders and victim compensation.
One does not need fifty guns, or even five. Requiring tabs on killing devices would not infringe on anyone’s rights and it would reduce the number of guns floating around America significantly, without reducing safety.
Requiring gun-havers to pay a fee is not akin to a poll tax. Voting is a constitutional right, and the 24th amendment guarantees that it’s a right that cannot be tied to a financial obligation. If you want your gun without having to pay for it, then you need another constitutional amendment.
5 – Just ban guns
It worked in Canada and England. Last year the US had over 12,000 gun deaths, while the UK had just 55. That’s a pretty telling divide. Canada confiscated all guns within memorable history, and their gun violence has fallen dramatically. What little remains is fueled only by the ease of buying a gun in the US and bringing it across the border.
If you ban guns, only criminals will have them
Well yes, technically. If they’re illegal, anyone in possession will be a criminal, including you. Criminals only obtain guns from people who purchased them legally. Sometimes they steal them, other times they buy them. This would become more complicated and convoluted.
It would also drive the price of an illegal gun through the roof. Right now a criminal can often get a gun for $50 to $200. If the seller can’t just go out and buy another, the cost will rise to a thousand or more, deterring many criminals. As the ban becomes more pervasive and complete, the cost will continue to rise, putting it out of reach for that many more criminals.
It may take a decade or three to get rid of all the guns Americans have hoarded over the past few decades, but that’s a price I’m willing to pay to spare 120,000 lives over the next decade.
Let’s weigh that. 120,000 Americans times the average household income of $50,000 is $6 billion in lost income and $1.2 billion in tax revenue (assuming a rate of 20%, including sales and gas taxes.) No fiscal conservative should be willing to sacrifice $1.2 billion in revenue to the federal coffer.
But we need to defend ourselves from the government
We are a representative democracy. We defend ourselves from the government by voting. If you think your 9mm or even your AR-15 is going to stop the National Guard from mowing you down with impunity, you are mistaken. Look at the way law enforcement treated the Occupy movement and you’ll see that there is no conceivable way to stand up to a well organized police state. They’ll tap your phones, read your emails and bust in on you at 3:00 in the morning to nip you in the bud before your insurrection even gets off the drawing boards.
If you’re worried about the government, you should worry less about your guns than you should about warrantless wiretapping, domestic drones and the widespread data harvesting already in place to spy on Americans. Show me the outrage over that and I’ll quiet down about guns.
But I might get raped
Yes, you might. That remains a real possibility. I would point out that very few rapes are ever stopped because the victim possesses a gun. It just doesn’t happen, unfortunately. I wish nothing but the worst punishment for rapists, but the 310 million guns in America as of 2009 (much higher now,) has not served as any deterrent to rape.
The number of non-lethal weapons available to those who fear they may be raped or robbed remains untouched. You can buy mace, which is sub-lethal, but can easily kill an asthmatic (and stop anyone from doing anything but clawing at their eyes.) You can also buy a Tazer, which likewise will stop anyone in their tracks. You can’t fight a tazer, we’re all run on electricity and that stuff lights you up in every synapse.
Where does the rubber meet the road?
I got (rid of) mine, Jack. I’ve been a proud gun owner since 1994. Well, not consecutively, many of the years I wasn’t proud and at least a couple of the years I wasn’t sure where my guns were, but still, I had technical, legal possession of them, and I was an American human.
But I’ve been weighing this recently, and I finally came to a conclusion. I don’t use them, I don’t carry them, they only pose a hazard in my home (I have small children,) and they would never be handy enough to use in self-defense… it’s time to let them go.
So I sold them. Rock bottom prices, and to a dear, close, trusted friend who is already a gun owner. He has a place to keep them safe, he’s already used one of them for target practice, and I made sure the sale was legal in my state. My guns are gone.
I don’t fear my government, or as I do, I don’t think having a gun will help me. A gun could only help me kill my fellow American, regardless of which side of the thin blue line he is on, and I have zero desire to do that.
I’ve been in some pretty hairy situations in my life, and I’ve always been glad I didn’t have a gun, because someone may well have died, and it may have been me. I don’t want that. Not from either side of the equation.
I can’t imagine what the next round of laws will bring, and I don’t care. It doesn’t affect me. Confiscate them, I don’t care, I have none. What troubles me is all the people “stocking up” because they fear an impending ban. If you already have five, you don’t need another twenty. You only have two hands, let that be a practical limit.
What is the solution?
I haven’t seen one yet. The litmus test for me is this: how many lives would your proposed legislation have saved in past shootings?
I think it’s plain that we should close the gun show loophole, which allows any random person to purchase an unlimited number of guns without a background check. That’s a no-brainer… but none of the mass shootings took place with gun show loophole weapons.
Maybe we should ban 100-round clips… except that none of those were used either.
We can ban Uzis if you like, but not a single Uzi has been used in an American mass shooting to date. All these common sense approaches sound good, but they don’t realize a tangible benefit.
I am confident of two things. One, that the suggestions listed above would have a life-saving benefit. And, B, that none of them will be implemented, because they are inconvenient to moneyed interests in Washington… and Gamma, that FOX News et al will run a successful scare campaign decrying this as un-American… and IV, that tens of thousands of Americans will die as a result.
Do we not care because most of the victims are dark in skin tone? Is that it? Do we not care because we’re afraid of the bogeyman who never comes?
I used to believe in the bogeyman, but I grew up. I also used to believe in Santa, the Tooth Fairy, and Jesus, but will you disregard my comment straight away because I included the mythical Jew from the desert on my list? If you’re going to insist that he’s real, I’m going to insist that he was a man of uncommon compassion, according to all the gnostic gospels. He was not the Jesus of the modern conservative right. He was a veritable hippy, dirty feet and all.
Wherever you come from, no matter your background, you have to admit it’s time to get serious about gun control. These are weapons designed only to kill.
I welcome the blind pro-gun hate in the comments below. Use the Facebook comments for maximum reach and impact and I’ll do my best to respond to them.