Where Is Common Sense On Guns?
Several years ago I wrote a very lengthy essay on the Obsolescence of the Second Amendment (link below). In it I made various points about how the Future is not a blank check where we can be guaranteed to “bear arms” no matter how advanced they get. Indeed, we certainly have put serious limits on these with respect to automated weapons, bombs, missiles, artillery etc. None of that was mentioned in the 2nd Amendment, just “arms” yet we managed to create enforceable laws practically banning these from civilian ownership without strict licensing. I say that many of the 21st Century’s guns are too powerful and advanced for responsible public usage already. The high tech Future is already here.
Like the proverbial frog in the slowly warming water coming to a boil, we’ve now hit a point where the damage inflicted by guns far outstrips any meaningful security they were supposed to bring but we keep going—ever warmer. We can now unfortunately create a measure called MSPD or Mass Shootings Per Day. This, being the 137th day of 2022 where we have already had 198 mass shootings means we have hit a MSPD of 1.45—essentially 3 mass shootings every 2 days in the US. Nevertheless, the water still isn’t sufficiently hot enough to get Congress to act, a feckless, disconnected Congress that is no longer representing the People. Any number of sensible gun control measures have wide support from enhanced background checks to limits on certain weapons and accessories. I’m talking over 70% of the people! The question becomes what MSPD will be too high to bear? Will it be 2.0, 5.0, 10.0 any amount? If we had mass shootings all day long every day sort of like a war, would that be enough? Where is the outrage? Where is the action? Where is the change we need? What’s the holdup?
It’s way past time to put the heat we are feeling on Congress. They are the frogs who need to boil, not us. Frankly, we need to have some specific focal points for these highly election-distracted “mis-representatives.” The best chance for success will have to be fairly short shopping list of common sense measures voters support on which we can build. This will at a minimum have to include:
Enhanced Background Checks: This one seems to be so obvious but it’s actually fairly complex to pull of because it requires connecting a bunch of disparate systems in a privacy-protecting way such as police records, school records, red flags from psychologists, social media posts, etc. How many times do we have to hear about red flags slipping through the cracks? And before anyone gets all worked up about Big Brother making your major depression into a red flag, let’s remember one VERY important thing:
Gun ownership is optional and not critically important to living.
If you want a gun so badly, you MUST submit to certain legal inquiries into your psychological profile and criminal records and you must pass the basic tests (as most people will). But not all, dammit! We have to stop putting the right to bear arms above the right of your neighbor and community to be safe. That right supersedes all gun rights. Nothing cramps your right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness like getting shot by a weirdo for no reason.
We don’t have to sell a gun to every Tom, Dick and Dirty Harry who wants one. Sorry NRA, we need to sell FEWER guns. Period. The fewer guns we do sell need to end up in normal, law abiding, mentally stable hands.
I would propose that we significantly raise the bar for gun ownership guided by these two objectives:
A) Reduce the overall quantity of guns circulating around and
B) Improve the average mental quality of gun owners via screening
I would even recommend a scoring system that has three basic outcomes:
- Qualified for gun ownership (no red flags)
- On a 5 or 10 year hiatus from lawful ownership (some level 2 red flag condition such as suicidal)
- Permanently disqualified (too many red flags or one level 1 red flag such as violent crime or serious threats)
Raise the Minimum Age to 21: After watching this 18 yr old monster in Buffalo murder 10 innocent grocery shoppers and 17 yr old Kyle Rittenhouse easily snuff out two young lives with his semi-automatic rifle it’s pretty clear that age group is not ready for this sort of people killing power. Believe me, everybody will be just fine if they have to wait to the same age required to buy alcohol for their optional guns.
Reinstate and Improve the Assault Weapons Ban: We already had a common sense Federal Assault Weapons Ban that was in in place from 1994 to 2004. However, there were hundreds of assault weapons unaffected by the law and many loopholes that allowed for the continued manufacturing of models similar to those banned so it could be improved.
I’ve heard so many gun fanboys go on about the definition of an assault weapon and every semantic twist possible to gaslight the issue and even some legit arguments as to whether it would be effective since most gun crime does not use those. Here is my basic definition:
- Semi-automatic, rapid-fire rifle often styled like a military rifle
- Large magazine capacity with easy swapping
- High velocity bullets meant to tumble and shred organs
IF these were allowed, they could be at licensed gun ranges for target practice only.
I would recommend we do what Australia did successfully and make ownership without special license unlawful, not even grandfathering in existing owners. Offer a government buy back program.
I would highly regulate and track the purchase of ammo for these weapons too.
Those Are Good First Steps
I don’t see an immediate reason to go further than these three Common Sense measures most Americans would agree to. It would take awhile to implement and see results so folks should not expect and end to mass shootings, just a reduction of the MSPD to under 1.0, ideally less that 0.1, one mass shooting per ten days.
Everybody is born with zero red flags and full gun rights but we MUST have a national database as solid as your credit score and social security number where your gun score is kept. Red flags slipping through the cracks is our number one problem. I couldn’t care less about selling fewer guns or even whether making and selling guns is profitable. Being alive is the best profit you can have.
I would also seriously consider a full 5-yr license and insurance system similar to driving cars for all guns which would also improve the quality of gun owners, objective B above. Also, I would do nothing to shield gun manufacturers or sellers from legal ramifications and lawsuits. This is one of the greatest tools we have to enforce responsibility in marketing and selling to the wrong people to make a buck.
By meeting objectives A and B we would definitely reduce gun deaths in the US. But let’s be clear, death is not the only problem. Many survivors of gun violence are gravely wounded, maimed, paralyzed and in pain. Many families are in permanent grief for an unnecessary loss too. These are high costs for society with almost no benefits to point to.
Our goal in society is to have a peaceful and safe place to go about living. Contrary to pro-gun rhetoric, guns do not help bring this about. A good guy with a gun is rarely in a position to stop a madman and often become just another victim themselves or simply aren’t ready in time to prevent multiple people being shot. The only way this can be done is for the shooter not to have a convenient easy-kill weapon in the first place, like in the old days.
Here’s a link to a very long article I wrote on The Obsolescence of the Second Amendment.