Thursday, January 24, 2013

Gun Control Solutions

Okay, let's assume that the founding fathers really did intend for citizens to own firearms and not, as I believe for "a well-regulated militia" to actually be the place where the country arms itself. Let's assume that Justice Scalia is right (god, I can't believe I actually wrote that phrase; I will have to scrub my fingers and wash my mouth out with soap when I'm done with this) and that the Congress may reasonably pass laws to regulate firearms.

Given those two assumptions, is there any reason why we can't allow everyone who wants weapons to have the weapons they want SUBJECT to the same kids of regulations and restrictions we put on many other products?

We regulate cars, tobacco, etc. We require people to get "marriage licenses" and drivers licenses. We require drivers/car owners to carry a minimum amount of insurance and require them to periodically renew and sometimes even re-test for their licenses. We charge fees for these licensing processes. We keep records. Why can't we do the same for firearms.

Specifically, why not require the following:

1. You must take a course and prove proficiency in safety. Might as well make it the same course police must take. It should include the kind of training that leads must police officers to rarely if ever fire a weapon anywhere other than at the range.

2. You must register and license every weapon you own. ANNUALLY. The fee should be NO LESS than what we pay to register our cars. You must show proof of your registration every time you want to buy ammo and the seller must keep a record. The proceeds can be used to beef up the capabilities of the police to take guns away from criminals and to take care of people injured by gun violence.

3. To obtain a license, you must prove that you are of sound mind. You should have to be examined by psychologist or  psychiatrist. This would prevent people like Wayne LaPierre from obtaining firearms. The burden should not be on the state to prove that you're nuts. The burden should be on you to prove that you're not.

4. You must have and be able to prove that you have sufficient liability insurance. Can't drive a car legally without such proof. Guns are as lethal or more so than cars. How about we set the minimum insurance at the actuarial value of a human life? How about $100,000 for ownership a 22 revolver? And, $1 million for a semiautomatic 9mm? How about $20M for a semiautomatic tactical rifle (what people like me call assault rifles, a phrase the NRA leadership abhors)? Ditto on bullets. The bigger the caliber and lethality, the more coverage you need to prove. Wanna buy 4,000 rounds of 50 cal. slugs that will travel a mile at 3,500 ft/sec? No problem. Just take out $1M in insurance for each box of 50 shells. In fact, why stop at simple liability insurance? Why not, for the really massively dangerous weapons require that you post a bond? Hell, I had to post a bond to put a swimming pool in my backyard. The more lethal, the bigger the bond. You wanna own a tank? No problem. Just show up at the police station with a $1M bond and proof of $50M in liability coverage. Want a tactical nuke? Post a $100M bond and prove that you carry $1 trillion in liability insurance (this one is aimed at Iran and North Korea, but could also be applied to friendly nations).

Just some random thoughts. None of this says, "you can't own a gun." Instead, it simply says, if you want to own a gun you must be responsible for what that weapon might do. Perhaps this would discourage or prevent certain, very unqualified people from having guns that are way beyond what makes sense for personal protection or hunting or sport shooting.

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