Common Sense Gun Control

GUNS, GUNS, GUNS, the divisions are deep and the oppositional forces are entrenched. A lot is being said for and against gun ownership, and whether you believe it or not, it’s all true.  If we accept that everybody can be right, how then can it be possible to resolve the issue of gun control in a mutually acceptable way?  Is there even a solution?  But before seeking a solution, we must first understand the arguments, all of them, and recognize their legitimacy.  Only then, can we determine the outcome, one that we will seek together, one that is both reasonable and attainable.
It would be a mistake to dismiss the NRA out of hand just because they have the financial strength of their lobbying efforts.  The fact that they have supported their position financially cannot be the determining factor of the legitimacy of their position.  If indeed our legislators have taken money from the NRA and have been politically bought and compromised by the taking of campaign donations, then that onus is on the legislators who have failed to evaluate the issues on their merit and instead, on the basis of a paid allegiance.  Rather, we need to remove them from office with the power of the vote, not because of their position on any single issue such as this, gun control, but for continuing the practice of being paid for policy in an indirect and legal way, a corruption of intent at the very least.
It’s a true statement that guns don’t kill people, people kill people.  So, let’s look at terrorism briefly to evaluate the problem in a broader context.  Terrorists now use cars and knives in addition to guns and bombs to attack and spread terror. There will always be a way to kill people.  The issue with guns is that it is easier and quicker with a gun, and even easier still, with a semi-automatic gun with a large clip capacity, like an AR-15.
It’s also widely thought that guns are unnecessary and their only value is for hunting. We live in a dangerous world and personal protection and home security are important.  No one should live in fear, but those who oppose tactical assault weapons regard them as overkill (no pun intended.)  Also, those who do not fear a political turn in our own country are blind to the possibility that “it can happen here” and regard anyone with a different position as “paranoid nutcases.” In a nationalistic state, anything is possible, just ask the Germans.  They learned that lesson the hard way.  Didn’t we all?
In the late summer of 1967, I was visiting my grandparents in New Haven Connecticut.  One night my grandfather drove us out to Jimmy’s on Savin Rock for hot dogs.  Jimmy’s had been a favorite childhood haunt of mine. On the way home, we drove through a race riot on Congress Avenue.  Houses were burning. Cars were attacked and windows smashed in.  Chaos was everywhere.  The police had the road blocked. My grandfather took a detour on a side street and we stopped at an intersection where a liquor store was being robbed.  The windows of the store had been broken out and several men were carrying cases of liquor from the store. When they saw us, they put down the boxes and attacked the car.  When we got home my grandparents were concerned that the riots might make their way over to us in Fair Haven, not far from Congress Ave. Their home was above the stores owned by my grandfather and my uncle Pete– a liquor store and a grocery store.  The concern was that the stores were targets and that if a riot came to us, the rioters might attempt to burn the stores and we were all at risk of losing our lives trapped above the fire by an angry crowd.  Minutes later, my uncle Pete showed up.  Pete owned the liquor store and had the same concerns.  He was carrying a handful of guns that he had brought from his house—two bolt action rifles that were well-worn relics from World War One, a small semi-auto pistol, and a shotgun.  Pete and I, and my friend Gary crept out through the front window of my grandparent’s home on to the parapet over the liquor store and kept an all-night vigil to ward off and protect the property against possible riots.  It was in all our minds that if we had to hold off a hundred people with these few bolt action relics and limited rounds, we would certainly perish, unless a few casualties served to ward off the crowd, rather than inflame them further. Oh, what I would have given for an AR-15!
And then we have to look at fringe groups—hate groups like the KKK and white supremacists.  In certain circumstances, they could impose the same kind of threat as the riot we drove through in 1967. What weapon offers the most reasonable protection against a large crowd?
And lastly, can we depend on the protection of law enforcement? In our current bifurcated society, with all the current deaths of people of color at the hands of the police, with a president who praises hate groups and foments violence, and with a long-running, documented history of events like the National Guard murder of four students at Kent State University, the 1985 bombing of Move in Philadelphia by the police that destroyed 65 homes by fire, the FBI siege at Waco resulting in the deaths of 76 men, women and children by the federal government, and the standoff at Ruby Ridge, events that  inspire caution and fear in the general populace in a much broader way than might be imagined, can we really expect to rely on the benevolent intentions of government and law enforcement for ultimate protection?
Like a knife or a car, a hammer or an axe, at its heart, a gun is just a tool. It cannot kill in and of itself.  It must be wielded by a human.  People kill people.  Certain types of people kill other people: people who are mentally ill and emotionally disturbed; people who are criminals and have criminal records, or are actively involved in the commission of a crime such as a robbery; terrorists who espouse a radical ideology; people in heated domestic arguments; people with low self-esteem who resolve respect issues through violence; people reacting in self-defense; soldiers and the military and lastly, the law enforcement.  Our first action should be to keep guns out of the hands of those not duly authorized to own or carry a gun, those with no legitimate purpose who impose a real danger. Gun ownership cannot be limited to just the military and law enforcement, but must allow for the common citizen as well, but to the exclusion of certain problem categories of people by definition.  Therefore, we must start by defining who qualifies.  Here’s what I propose.
1. If you cannot vote, you cannot own a gun.  This eliminates the under-aged, aliens and criminals. The 2nd amendment protects citizens and only citizens.  If you can’t be trusted with a vote, one of millions, a vote with only a small and almost negligible effect, why should you be trusted with a gun?
2. If you are on the no-fly list you cannot purchase a gun. If we won’t let you get on an airplane, why would we allow you to buy a gun?
3. To purchase a gun, you must be 21 years of age or older. ‘Nuff said.
4. To purchase a gun, you must first acquire a license to purchase.  This license would be qualified by a questionnaire and a comprehensive background check and would result in a photo ID card being issued that would need to be presented in order to make a purchase. It would serve the same purpose as a driver’s license and both qualify and limit gun ownership to responsible individuals and pre-empt the need for on the spot background checks. It would also solve the gun show and private sale problem.
5. Only those with a gun license may purchase live ammunition. Licenses would be renewed every three years.
6. Tactical and assault rifles would be treated the same as any other gun.
7. Large capacity magazines would not be banned.
8. In homes with children, it should be required by law that guns are kept under lock and key or with trigger locks. Licensees would be required to affirm such measures in an affidavit under penalty of law, and therefore a violent act committed by a minor with a family gun would result in the imprisonment of one or both parents or guardians for failure to comply. Parents must be held accountable for negligence resulting in deaths by gun violence at the hands of their children.
9. As a parent with a minor living in the home, to own a gun you should be required to keep insurance and it would be the responsibility of the insuring agency to make the household inspection that certifies that the guns(s) are kept under lock and key.
No matter which side of the issue you are on please consider these measures and pass this on if you agree.  All comments are appreciated.
For more information on the statistics supporting the ongoing debate please visit:
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