Tuesday, January 8, 2013

New Gun Control Laws

Gun control is a big topic these days, as it is immediately proceeding any tragedy where guns were the instrument of death for so many innocent lives. As usual both sides are unyielding in their beliefs, the pro-gun lobby still insisting that more guns are the answer while the anti-gun lobby insists on more regulation and/or the banning of certain guns. The same rhetoric we've heard from both sides for decades.

The pro-gun lobby masses behind the Second Amendment right to bear arms, written when a peoples' militia was actually necessary and when guns with the killing power of today's weaponry could not even be imagined. They seem to not see the "well regulated" part and the ever popular "Guns don't kill people, people kill people!" is their rallying cry. I too want to defend my home against any hostiles but I'll skip the guns. I think my weapon of choice when arming myself for confrontation will be small nuclear bombs. What's wrong with that? Nuclear bombs don't kill people, people kill people! I demand my Constitutional right to own nuclear warheads!

The anti-gun lobby thinks these claims are somewhat weak; outdated and/or just plain silly. They think it's crystal clear that guns are bad, that guns kill people. I've lived with guns in my home before and not once did I ever see one do anything by itself. I never caught one sneaking out at night to kill anyone, never even caught two of them hiding in a closet with their safeties off comparing bullets to see whose was bigger.

Compromise is likely impossible in this era of partisan inspired hatred and divisive rhetoric but I think the answer really does exist somewhere between the two opposing viewpoints. One observation I've made is that the pro-gun and anti-gun lobbies seem to fall along partisan lines. Democrats seem to comprise the majority of the "Guns are evil" crowd and Republicans seem to comprise the majority of the "All bow to the mighty Gun" crowd. Another concept I've seen thrown around by the Republicans is that of personal responsibility. People should be responsible for what they do instead of the government mandating what's allowed and what's not. They use this often, usually whenever arguing against any new policy suggested by any Democrat. I'm going to take their "personal responsibility" mantra, apply it to the gun issue and suggest some modest gun law reforms.

I firmly believe that rights come with responsibilities. I believe that if you can't handle the responsibility then you should forfeit the right. Sure you have the right of freedom of speech enabling you to scream out "Fire!!" in a crowded theater, but you also have the responsibility not to do so unless there really is a fire. If you ignore that responsibility and abuse the right, and someone is injured as a result, your right to free speech should be forfeited and you should be held responsible. Personal responsibility in action.

In my opinion the entire pro-gun crowd has failed miserably when it comes to personal responsibility and has done so for a very long time. Responsibility is lacking when it comes to the gun backers in our government, they refuse to close glaring loopholes in existing laws to help stop people who shouldn't have guns from getting them. Responsibility is lacking when it comes to dealers at gun shows, they'll sell to anybody. Responsibility is lacking in individual gun owners, they'll sell to anyone as well, whoever answers their ad and pays the cash gets their gun. They'll leave guns laying around unsecured, allowing accidental shootings by children as well as allowing easy access for aspiring mass murderers and easy theft by people who value $50 over human life. Even as children are slaughtered twenty at a time they demand their right to have all the unregulated weapons they want, but don't seem willing to accept any responsibility for what happens when those guns are misused. That's bullshit.

What follows are my "personal responsibility" inspired suggestions for modest expansion of gun regulations and closing loopholes in existing laws. Five suggestions which I think could collectively reduce the guns available to the criminal element while curtailing none of the rights of law abiding citizens. Some infrastructure would need to be created for some of these but most of it is already in place.

  1. All guns should be tracked by serial number from manufacture onward to the distributors, retailers, and private citizens. Every gun must be registered, this is provided for in the Second Amendment with the words "well regulated." Every gun sold must be registered to the buyer by the seller. The seller must take personal responsibility for this because they will be the last recorded owner if they don't. This will be important. Failure to comply would result in forfeiture of right to own or license to sell. No responsibility, no right. Should a gun be sold without the seller updating registration info to the new buyer, and that gun be used in a crime the seller, as last recorded owner, is tried as an accomplice for that crime. After all, they still own the gun. Personal responsibility.
  2. Background checks, no exceptions. If a gun is sold without a background check the seller forfeits their right to own or license to sell. Additionally, if a gun sold without a background check is used in a crime the seller, be they citizen or dealer, will be tried as an accomplice for that crime. They ignored their personal responsibility so they should be personally responsible for their inaction.
  3. Private owner, secure storage. All unattended weapons (weapons not on your person or not located immediately near you or another responsible person of legal age) must be properly stored in a secure gun cabinet or safe. Not a pretty one with glass doors so people can ooh and ahh at your collection but one strong enough to prevent unauthorized removal of your weapons. The preferred option would be cabinets meeting minimum sets of standards developed by ANSI (American National Standards Institute) or some similar organization. It is irresponsible to leave unattended weapons unsecured so as to allow easy access to anyone entering your home, legally or otherwise. Failure to properly store weapons would result in forfeiture of right to own. Should your weapons be stolen or otherwise taken without authorization due to failure to meet this requirement, and those weapons then used to commit a crime, you as the owner will be tried as an accomplice for that crime and would face forfeiture of your right to own guns. You failed your responsibility, you don't deserve the right. Take personal responsibility for your lack of responsibility.
  4. Dealers, secure storage. It is not reasonable to expect entire gun shop inventories be kept secure in cabinets or safes. Such a restriction would be unfair, unreasonably cost prohibitive and unnecessarily detrimental to business. However, the premises on which guns are stored can be secured and should be secured under strict security guidelines with minimum requirements. Not just passive alarms but security gates or grates on entrances and windows, ultra secure steel doors for service entrances and any other technologies which could prove useful to stop or detain criminals trying to steal weapons. A minimum of two people should be working at all times with at least one armed and not behind the counter where they can be trapped by an armed thief. Compliance and safety inspections would be mandatory. Failure to comply would result in forfeiture of license to sell. Theft of weapons from any establishment not meeting the minimum requirements would result in loss of license to sell. Should a gun stolen from an establishment not meeting minimum requirements be used in a crime the business owner and all parties responsible for security would be tried as accessories for that crime and lose their personal right to own as well as the business's license to sell. No responsibility, no right.
  5. Proficiency tests will be mandatory, preferably annually. These tests must include target shooting with a minimum required score, and should preferably include other skill tests like loading/unloading while blindfolded, safety on/off determination when blindfolded, and in the case of semi-autos or assault weapons field stripping and re-assembling within a specified time limit. The bigger the kill potential of the weapon the more difficult the test would be. Gun owners must demonstrate familiarity and proficiency with their weapons, lack of either makes them nothing more than a threat to themselves and everyone around them. Range owners and staff can be certified to administer these exams thereby requiring no government fee, only one by the range operator should they deem it necessary. Citizens with multiple weapons need only pass certification with one weapon from each predetermined class; revolver, semi-auto handgun, rifle, semi-auto rifle, assault weapon, etc... Failure to take or pass proficiency exams would result in loss of right to own. If you can't be responsible enough to demonstrate that you as a gun owner aren't a danger to everyone around you then you don't deserve the right to own one. Back in the 1790's guns were a necessary tool and gun owners knew them backward, forward and inside out because their lives would often depend on that knowledge and that gun. Guns aren't fashion accessories they are dangerous weapons. Know it or lose it.

So there we go, the backbone of my gun control suggestions. No bans, no forbidden types of guns, the only people not allowed to own are those already prevented from doing so by current law (like felons) and people who have demonstrated the lack of responsibility which should accompany the right. All the gun crowd has to do is take responsibility for themselves and their guns. Surely that's not too much to ask?

It's not perfect but I think it's a good compromise and would be a good start, it's certainly better than the nothing that we've been doing. Should these guidelines succeed in reducing gun violence then guns and the pro-gun lobby itself would become less of a scapegoat in the eyes of the anti-gun crowd. Gun ownership rights would be fully intact and dependent only on personal responsibility. The pro-gun crowd should have no issue with that, they preach the concept often. Unless they suddenly develop a problem with safety. Gun ownership wouldn't be quite as easy, and stricter criminal penalties in combination with loss of gun rights for irresponsible owners should be something the left would approve of. Especially if the requirements and penalties increased with the firepower or killing potential of the weapons in question.

I think this would eventually begin to reduce availability of guns to criminals. I doubt anyone would want to risk jail for selling a gun to some shady wannabe gangster answering a classified ad. Unscrupulous dealers would be shut down. Straw purchasers would suddenly find themselves facing the very real threat of considerable jail time and would be far less likely to buy large quantities of guns then sell them to people not allowed to have them. As an added bonus, legitimate dealers would see an increase in business due to shutdown of those failing to comply and I doubt they'd want to lose their business. Gun owners wouldn't want to lose their guns. The ability for both to keep what they've got would depend solely on themselves and safety in general would be improved.

1 comment:

  1. I preffer cold weapons, like the Machete (cutlass). Don't need expensive ammo, do not have to be cocked, are silent so neighbors stay undisturbed & can sever a head á la Spartacus after a good swing, like a portable guillotine.

    Can be used in gardening or jungle trekking as well, plus military chek points do not mind.