A Proposal Regarding the Gun Conundrum

Just another in the long line of proposals to address gun violence in America.

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.

  1. 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?
  2. 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. 
  3. 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.
  4. 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):

  1. 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.)
  2. 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.)
  3. 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
  4. 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.

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M.Legison February 07, 2013 at 07:40 AM
Please list the states that are less restrictive--or for that matter equally as restrictive-- than for obtaining a CCW, for the purchase and use of automatic weapons.
Mark Paxson February 07, 2013 at 02:04 PM
M. ... if you'd like to rehash issues raised on other threads, go for it on those threads. I make no claims regarding what states are more or less restrictive on this post. What I suggest is that across the country we either ban automatic weapons or require possession of them to require additional scrutiny than the standard license I'm proposing for "regular" gun ownership. Maybe I should have been clearer about something ... this is a proposal for a national policy, not a piecemeal approach for California.
Ana Bertolucci February 07, 2013 at 04:57 PM
Thank you Mark. I fully agree with your rebuttal to the common positiions and arguments held by the NRA. This notion of needing to arm ourselves against the tyranny of our government in 2013 is delusional and ridiculous. And if that's where we're really at in our country, then we've got even bigger problems that a gun purchased from Walmart isn't going to solve. I do not own a gun nor do I feel the need to. I do however respect the rights of law-abiding, mentally healthy people who want to own a gun, except NO ONE needs automatic assault rifles except our military. There is no argument that will convince me otherwise. Yes to in-depth background checks, licenses, mandated training, storage, and all the rest. Owning a gun is a huge responsibility and the act of purchasing one and possessing it should be as strict as possible.
M.Legison February 07, 2013 at 09:44 PM
You still don't know the difference between auto/semi-auto. If you did, you'd know that it's practically impossible to legally require a fully automatic weapon. You also fail to distinguish between rifles, shotguns, and handguns. Maybe you don't know the history of crimes committed with each. Maybe you don't realize that SEMI-automatic weapons are a subset of rifles, and I believe about 3% of crimes using firearms (only that term includes all the above classes) are committed with rifles, be them single load, magazine, semi, or auto. Before you bloviate further, Mark, take some time to fact check and learn nomenclature.
Mark Paxson February 08, 2013 at 02:12 AM
See, M., the interesting thing is if you wanted to discuss instead of argue, you'd help educate me without name calling and insulting my intelligence. I've continued my research and you are correct about some of what you post here. So, let me modify my proposal: New 3: The existing laws regarding automatic weapons remain unchanged. New 4: Anybody wanting to own a semi-automatic with a clip with more than XX bullets would need the additional scrutiny I proposed for automatic weapons. New 5: You can possess whatever weapon you want on your own property. The moment you cross your property line in possession of anything that violates the above, you're a criminal. Feel free, M., to try to assist in developing this rather than posing hide the ball questions and then attacking me for not knowing what you know. See, it's called an exchange of ideas and knowledge. It's called a discussion. Rather than criticize me for what I don't know without actually responding to my proposal, how about you could discuss which elements you would support and which you wouldn't and why. Or are you just interested in arguing and not interested in trying to come up with a solution.
Dan Schmitt February 08, 2013 at 03:31 AM
Mark, I'm wondering why you're rather ambivalent on the issue of large capacity magazines. No one, let me repeat, NO ONE needs to possess a magazine that holds 20-40 or more bullets and can be emptied in a matter of seconds. In terms of mass slaughters like that at Sandy Hook Elementary, it's really not the semi-automatic rifle that's the issue. For me, the issue is the large capacity magazines which have no place in our society.
Mark Paxson February 08, 2013 at 03:49 AM
Can't disagree with you ... what I'm trying to do is find a middle ground where people can compromise. Insisting on everything that I believe or want will not result in resolution to the problem. I'd like to see some of the same from the other side.
Elk Grove Veteran February 08, 2013 at 05:04 AM
I think we should become less restrictive with law abiding citizens. I also think we should increase the severity of the punishments for those who break the laws. We don't need more laws. Criminals don't obey laws. What we need is the most severe punishment that the constitution will allow. Right now I feel like the bad guys are happy to go to prison. All of their friends are there, they get free food and housing. Probably better than living in the projects.
M.Legison February 09, 2013 at 01:03 AM
Mark, you're sniveling again. Stop it. As to your argument, I don't disagree with some of your proposal. I do disagree with licensing all firearms, because there is a very small subset that is used in the great majority of crimes. As to the "we don't need" argument, that's insulting, or if it isn't it should be. There are many things that are legal that we don't "need," and because someone doesn't see a need doesn't mean the item should be restricted. I'm mixed on a magazine limitation, however. We already have one in California, and to our family who are all shooters, and yes we do have a semi, and no we don't "need" it, the limited mag capacity is just a pain when target shooting. Still, even though ARs compromise a tiny portion of weapons used in crime, a mag limitation would not offend me much. For now, a mag limitation is practically moot. If you know how to bump shoot you can burn up $10 in ammunition in 2-3 seconds. Rounds have more than tripled in price in the last few months. I don't think I have to tell you why. *[and please-- referring to all you gun grabbers who have no knowledge of them-- lose the word "bullet" when referring to ammunition, unless you are referring to the slug only. You look like sissies, and it's pretty bad when a woman knows more about firearms than the men in this topic. ]
Mark Paxson February 09, 2013 at 01:26 AM
M. ... I put this out there to try to have a discussion. The one response I got from somebody who might have a different view was yours and it basically was, rather than an attempt to carry forward the discussion, an attempt to belittle me. It's not sniveling, it's pointing out reality. Now that we've got that out of our system. As for legislating away something we don't need ... I agree with you generally speaking. The problem here is that the thing we don't need is something that provides a much greater capacity for harm. As a result, there should be some consideration for whether that the thing that does greater harm is something that should be banned or limited in some way since we don't need it. Now, if there's an argument for why it's needed that's another discussion. As for your last comment ... this may come a a shock to you but there are plenty of people who don't live in a world in which men and women fit into the stereotypical world. I much prefer that world over yours. :) I can't imagine a world more boring than one in which all men are into sports, cars, and guns, while all women stay home, cook for their men, and darn socks.
M.Legison February 09, 2013 at 01:36 AM
OK. And at the risk of broaching a related but separate topic, what "harm" does it do to require voter ID? The argument from the left is usually that it infringes on individual rights. We could extend that argument to additional limitations on certain classes of firearms. I think the issue of gun control is largely political, unfortunately.
Mark Paxson February 09, 2013 at 06:14 AM
As long as it's ID that anybody can get, I don't have a problem with it. For instance, when you register to vote, you get some sort of ID you then use when you show up to vote. Got no problem with that.
M.Legison February 09, 2013 at 08:12 AM
I guess my concern with much of the gun control is the apparent lack of nexus with decreased crime. We really have no basis to state that stronger gun control would equate to fewer fatalities or shootings. Combined with questionable Constitutional authority, it's a slippery slope.
Mark Paxson February 09, 2013 at 03:33 PM
Speeding laws really don't slow people down. There are for more people who violate the speeding laws than comply with them. There are plenty of other similar examples. As I said at the outset ... do we want to live in a society where people can buy whatever kind of guns they want without any training, licensing or background checks. I work in downtown Sacramento. There are a whole lot of people walking the streets I don't want to see getting anywhere close to a gun. If requiring background checks and licensing and required training can stop one whacko from buying a semi-automatic every week, isn't that better than the alternative? As for Constitutional authority, I'm sure Greg Coppes would disagree with me, but there's nothing in the 2nd amendment or in the Heller decision to suggest that requiring background checks (Heller specifically mentioned that nothing in the decision should be read as preventing the government from deciding certain types of people like felons can't own a gun and that guns can't be in certain places like schools) or training or licensing would violate the 2nd amendment.
public safety retiree February 10, 2013 at 03:47 AM
I support firearm regulation, restriction, and enforcement as acceptable responses to the current violence. As a solution?-- limited. Only disarmament would be the ultimate solution in the minds of many folks, judging by media comments. But that's a society in which the 2nd amendment and your services would likely not be needed, Mr Paxon. The conundrum is to not allow legislators to criminalize persons who are committing no public offense, by creating over-reaching laws that would too easily make them criminals. That's what people fear, and that's no solution.
Mark Paxson February 10, 2013 at 06:06 AM
I'm not interested in disarmament and I don't believe anything I've posted would suggest that. I also would love to live in a society in which attorneys aren't needed.
public safety retiree February 10, 2013 at 09:42 PM
It's the overzealous legislators, politicians, and haughty ideologues that are currently not helpful, not you. Gun laws fundamentally need less complexity and more consistency across state and local jurisdictions, and they need to be crafted to not entrap the innocent. When it takes YEARS to clarify just one issue that's pushed through the justice system all the way to the Supreme Court for a landmark ruling, the system is also culpable for the problem. Rework the existing laws so that they are reasonable, and reasonable people will follow suit. Enact unreasonable laws, and reasonable people will rebel.
Greg February 11, 2013 at 06:34 PM
LAPD pros dumped 50+ on two old ladies without taking them out. And you want to limit me to 10?
Mark Paxson February 11, 2013 at 06:48 PM
Greg ... tell me why you think you need more than ten then we can talk.
Greg February 11, 2013 at 08:35 PM
Mark, do the math on my "LAPD pros" thing --- never mind that their target was non-aggressive. How many shots per aggressive do you think is appropriate for me to have? If there is a two-person home invasion, using LAPD as a reference, I need at least 50 shots. <sarcasm>
Greg February 11, 2013 at 11:11 PM
PS Retiree: You are right. Considering gun-free zones, concealed, open-carry, separation of parts & ammo, locks, and who knows what else --- I don't believe I can purchase a weapon from a licensed dealer and get it home without becoming a criminal in the process.


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