So what can be done about guns?

While there’s no easy answer, here’s some reasonable thoughts on the matter from the Daily Beast’s Michael Tomasky.

I’ll summarize his points here:

2nd Amendment is here to stay. So here’s the way to leverage it and put it to good use.

1.       2nd Amendment enshrines the existence of “well-regulated militia necessary to the security of a free state”. Many gun owners fancy themselves to be protectors of freedom, so let’s enable them to become part of the state’s well-regulated militia, just like 2nd Amendment decrees.

2.       Membership is such militia group would require registration, training and certain responsibilities. For instance, militia members could be required to register their guns and keep them in locked safes in the house; they could be required to undergo certain testing; or they could be required to keep certain types of guns on the shooting ranges (the only place where those guns can be legitimately used)

3.       Hunting rifles would be explicitly excluded from such regulations, so that huntsmen and especially NRA would not be able to play that card.

4.       In return, the Federal government would leave those decisions to the states, plus could subsidize the purchase of steel safes as a deal sweetener. That would spare us the fight in Congress that would probably end in gun-control advocates’ defeat. But throwing the issue to the states enables them to solve the problem as they see fit. CT and NY would probably have very strict regulation of such a militia, while AZ and TX would have very lax one. If the shooting happens, the reins to deal with it, as well as the responsibility for it will be in the hands of local citizens and local government.

5.       The Feds could also have some mechanisms to encourage compliance – such as financial penalties in a form of cutting 10% of law-enforcement government funds. With freedom comes responsibility and to sell personal responsibility to the gun crowd whose strongest argument has always been “guns don’t kill people, people kill people” should not be very hard.

Of course, all of the above should be combined with closing gun show loopholes, where background checks are not necessary to buy a gun and require mental health testing prior to gun purchase. These solutions, while imperfect, can offer a blue print to go forward. I thought about it and argued with some gun supporters on Facebook over the weekend. There’s just no way that we can ban all guns, no matter how many more people die – because of the 2nd Amendment of the Constitution. Assault weapons (or automatic weapons) are already banned and the guns used in many recent shooting were legal and licensed. This makes the entire issue impossible to solve with yet another stroke of a pen. The mother of the shooter was a gun enthusiast with guns in the house for her own protection and in the end she couldn’t protect herself – not from the tyrannical government but from her family member. So obviously, owning a gun is not a guarantee of your safety. Many gun owners with children think “this would never happen in my family, my children know how to handle a gun” – a sentiment I ran into plenty during my Facebook discussions over the weekend. We will always have parents with this kind of mindset and no amount of regulations will change it. But we cannot write laws that will protect people from themselves; we can only install incentives for them to become more responsible.

I’m sure there are holes in these arguments, as this is the issue I don’t usually touch, but I’m genuinely trying to find a solution here without demanding a change in the Constitution.

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4 thoughts on “So what can be done about guns?

  1. Jim W says:

    “Many gun owners fancy themselves to be protectors of freedom, so let’s enable them to become part of the state’s well-regulated militia, just like 2nd Amendment decrees.”

    This is an oft, but off target, sentiment regarding the 2nd Admendment which states: “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

    Since the whole issue of gun control is a charged one, try the same sentence with something more inocuous, ” A well equiped farm being necessary to the healthful diet of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear plows shall not be infringed.”

    Does that make sense? Sure. On its plain face it is a statement of commonly accepted truth.

    Does it mean that everyone who owns a plow must own a farm, be employed by one, or that any and all plows must reside on a farm? Obviously not because the second part of the sentence “the right of the people to keep and bear plows…” is not dependent upon the success of the 1st.

  2. I think I’m missing something here. The nature of plows is different from the nature of guns and thus regulation of plows (or organization of plows into farms and designated residence) would have a different purpose, something other than protection from the state tyranny.

    • jim says:

      Sounds like my point was lost.
      Many persons interpret the 2nd amendment as meaning those who own guns should only be allowed to own them if they are part of a ” well regulated militia”. That is my take on the author’s point 1, (” just like the 2nd amendment decrees”)

      The 2nd amendment decrees nothing of the sort.

      Look at it from the gramatical structure. There are two parts, the 1st p,art ( “a well regulated militia…”) And the 2nd part (” the right of the people…”)

      The 1st part cannot stand on its own, it is not a complete thought., not a complete sentence.
      The 2nd part, .” The right of the people…. will not be infringed.” Is a complete thought..it does not matter what comes before it, it still stands on its own.

      There is quite a bit of information on this

      http://thefiringline.com/forums/showthread.php?t=31551

      “Regulation” can easily be seen as an infringment.

  3. jim says:

    One cannot regulate away guns or gun violence.

    Capacity limits on magazines? Ineffectual. Choi at virginia tech used 15 rnd magazines with 9mm hollow points and 10 rnd magazines with .22 rounds.
    Capacity limits are a slippery slope..what should the limit be? If Choi could kill over 30 with relatively small cap mags, then should every gun be single shot? Think that through …there are millions of rifles and guns with more capacity that one round. The fed gonna round up every single one? No.

    Limits on caliber? Ineffectual. (See above) 9mm certainly will kill, but it is not “high powered”.

    Require all guns not in use to be locked down, disassembled, etc, etc.? Ineffectual. How will one police that? If a gun is stollen, persecute the owner for not locking them down or not locking them into a heavy enough safe? That is victimizing the victim. Considering that many use guns for home defense, having a gun so locked down negates that important aspect of gun ownership.

    Require all guns to be registered? They already are and have been in every state since 1968. When you purchase a gun the serial number is associated with your name. If you sell that gun via ” the gun show loop hole”, that gun is still associated with your name. If it is later used in a crime, the police will come looking for you…..but notice I said if it is used in a crime…after the fact…too late. Registration does not prevent crime. How could it? The law abiding will dutifully register their guns, the criminal could care less, and in fact prefer to have an unregistered gun.

    5 day waiting period? Ineffectual and perhaps could do more harm than good by denying those that need a weapon soon ( threatened, battered wife, stalked g.f., etc)

    Bans on Flash suppressors, forward grips, pistol grip rifle stock, barrels under 20″, piccatinnii rails, laser sights, etc? Ineffectual, done before and really missing wide the Mark. If we re going to go that rout, it would probably be more effective if all scary looking guns were made less scary by requiring them to be painted hot pink .

    Limits on ammo? Ineffectual. Another slippery slope. How much is too much for one person to own? Says who? How would that be policed? Many persons reload ammo and could easily by pass any requirement.

    A total ban on all guns that are easy to shoot, accurate, do not require frequent reloading, or are easy to reload. Ineffectual. Look up dunblain massacre…single action revolvers were used to kill 17 school children.

    The list goes on. Nothing hasn’t been tried before and nothing realty works.

    Except

    A common sense approach to psychiatric care. We are so worried about hurting someone’s rights we don’t get them the care they need. Adam lanza was obviously off…for a long time…all mass killers are. Why didn’t someone “drop a dime” on him and get him help? Because there is no one to call and no recourse if there was.

    The world needs to be more “human”, more forgiving. A social safety net, medical care. Job loss can spell financial doom, forclosure, repossesson, within weeks as most people are hand to mouth…even those with classic middle class jobs. The days of staying with one company for 40 yrs are long gone…workers have no rights, can be fired for any reason, at any time, or for no reason.

    Lastly, a clear eyed view. This is America…there are nearly as many guns, rifles etc, as there are people. This isn’t England or Australia where a total gun ban
    would net 300 million guns during a pre ban,government cash for your guns phase. The old, broken would be turned in for a quick buck, the good ones hidden away, the extras burried in sealed pvc pipes in the back yard. Guns are here, they are here to stay and there will always be those who want to do the most unspeakable acts with them. The only thing that will stop them is an armed populous trained and willing to act.

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