Rather than deal with this in the piecemeal, name-calling fashion that so many comment threads seem to degenerate into, I’m offering the following as my ideas for a solution to the “gun problem” for purposes of a discussion and debate, knowing full well that this is likely to end up where all previous attempts at such discussions have ended. Here’s hoping it doesn’t.
First, I want to dispense with some arguments and positions I’ve seen that I believe are irrelevant.
- If we outlaw guns, only criminals will have guns. My proposal will not prevent people from having guns to defend themselves. As well, we don’t make laws based on whether or not criminals obey them. We make laws to define what we believe is right and wrong in our society and then enforce them to the best of our ability. Would you prefer a world in which a criminal can possess an automatic weapon without violating the law or would you prefer a world in which the criminal’s mere possession of an automatic weapon would be a crime?
- To defend yourself, you must arm yourself to the teeth because the armed marauders are knocking at your door. I keep hearing how people need semi-automatic or automatic weapons because they need to defend against the chance of a marauding mob of well-armed criminals invading their castle. If we made laws based on similar likelihoods, we would outlaw airplanes, cars, and, well, pretty much everything. The chances of your castle being invaded by criminals armed with automatic weapons, is most likely less than you dying in a plane crash or in a car accident.
- The corollary to #2 is that citizens must arm themselves against a tyrannical government. Again, I believe this is an idea that should not limit ideas for exerting some control over the specter of gun violence in this country. The black helicopters aint coming any time soon people. The guv’mint isn’t going to impose martial law and destroy your lives and your freedom. If you disagree, feel free to explain the scenario in modern America where you see that happens.
- The more armed people there are, the less gun violence there will be. Somebody suggested that America in the 1800s is a perfect example of this theory. As I suggested, anybody who thinks so should revisit their American history. As well, there are plenty of examples in the modern world where this simply isn’t true. The idea that more guns would reduce the incidence of gun violence defies logic.
Second, rather than talking about what the 2nd Amendment means and what it may allow for in terms of restrictions on gun ownership, let’s start with what we believe we should do as a country and a society. Come to some consensus on where we want to head on this incredibly contentious issue and then determine how it fits within the 2nd Amendment.
Here’s my proposal (and I’m going to add my opinion of whether the 2nd Amendment as interpreted and applied by the Supreme Court in Heller would allow for it):
- Background checks for all gun purchases. Not just for sales by licensed dealers, but for every gun purchase there is. If you purchase a gun and did so without benefit of a background check, both you and the seller are subject to criminal penalties. Yes, there will be plenty of underground gun sales it’s impossible to track, but this goes back to my fundamental point. Do we, as a society and a country, want to allow people to buy guns without background checks or not? If the answer is no, then we adopt a law that requires a background check for every single gun sale that occurs. (Allowed by 2nd Amendment: Yes, although there’s an interesting side issue here – what things disclosed in a background check would disqualify the purchaser? I’m open to suggestions to what that could be.)
- Every gun owner must be licensed to do so. The license could be accompanied by required training in the use and safe handling/storage of the covered weapon. Again, possession of an unlicensed weapon, or possession of a weapon by an individual who does not have a license and can show proof of having received the required training would be result in penalties. (Allowed by the 2nd Amendment.)
- Automatic weapons be either banned or subject to the types of additional scrutiny that concealed carry permits require. (Open for debate, but I believe the Heller decision suggests this would be permissible
- I’m open on the idea of limiting (or not) the capacity of magazines. Let’s discuss. (Again, open for debate, but I believe the Heller decision suggests this would be permissible.)
That’s what I’ve got. Yes, I’ve probably missed things. Maybe I've not stated things as clearly as I would have liked. What I’d like to see, however, rather than comments that I’m stupid for this or an idiot for that, are counter-proposals. You don’t like my solution, offer yours. Let’s see how this goes. It’s up to you.