There just might be an opportunity to solve the problem of mass murders caused by disturbed individuals with guns. If we can get the politicians to stop talking long enough arme a feu vendre to listen. They may realize they are both wrong on the issue of gun control. Note how carefully I chose my words there. Guns do not kill people. Disturbed people with guns kill people. Maybe this is a point we can all try to agree on? Maybe we can all agree that we have a real public safety issue in the United States today caused by a system that is broken. Unfortunately, we have lots of evidence of what can go wrong when the system fails. It’s time for people to stop talking and start offering real answers.
To begin with, we need to have the politicians on the left stop politicizing this issue. They, more than anyone, have been behind the culture of violence found in America today. The liberalization of the media, television, movies, and on-line games have been defended by their first amendment rights with little or no regard for the after effects they cause. We accept that it is not an infringement of your first amendment rights to yell fire in a crowded theater but showing gratuitous violence is far more dangerous. There are and should be limits on what Hollywood can produce.
We also know that the right defends their second amendment rights in justifying weapons like the AR-15. Automatic weapons have long been banned as is owning a bazooka, but the right properly states that the AR-15 is not an automatic weapon. It’s a false argument. The issue with the AR-15 is not whether it is an automatic weapon. A 9mm handgun has a muzzle velocity of 1250 feet per second (FPS). When the bullet hits a bone, it stops. The muzzle velocity of an AR-15 is 2700 to 3300 fps depending on the size of the barrel used. When it hits a bone, it splinters the bone and the bone shards splatter causing even more damage. That is why it should be classified as an assault weapon. Now don’t get me wrong… I do not advocate getting rid of the right to own an AR-15. Lets admit what it is and make it difficult to get one if you have problems. I want to solve a public safety issue by keeping it out of the hands of people with mental issues and criminal backgrounds. Even the NRA seems to support this. The problem is the current system meant to do this does not work.
Consider this… Under today’s system, who is responsible for checking a person’s background when they go to buy a gun? The gun store owner is. That is except if it’s a private sale or a gun show, in which case no one does a background check (and there is no 3-day cool down period). The gun store owner, whose job it is to sell guns, does the background check. There is an obvious conflict of interest there.
Further, there is no true point where all the persons information comes together. In the Broward County attack the person had a history of mental illness, he had posted irrational statements on his web-site, people had reported him to the FBI, and the police had been called to his house over thirty times. No one was singularly responsible for saying “This person should not be able to buy or own a gun.” For the same reason, public safety, we should not defend his right to own a gun under the second amendment. Public safety must override his second amendment rights.
So how do we solve this?
We need to license people to buy and possess guns. The licensing procedure should be tough because it should be an obstacle that weeds out those who should not own a gun. The licensing authority should be the point where all of the persons background comes together. To get a license to own a gun, there should be a 40 hour training course and an additional 40 hours for an assault weapon such as an AR-15. Police and veterans who have had training should be deferred from the training… but should still go through the application process. If you are caught with a gun and are not licensed there should be mandatory jail time and all of your guns should be confiscated.
I don’t think the arguments that licensing violates rights holds water. In the US the FAA licenses pilots to fly a plane and the ICC licenses truckers to drive big rigs for interstate commerce. The FCC licenses radio and TV stations and radio operators individually. At the state level we license most professionals. It should not be easier to get a gun than it is to drive a car. There are no real reasons this can’t be done in the interest of public safety. Setting an age limit for owning a gun is also a false way to control guns. Go to a permitting system if necessary where a youthful gun owner is sponsored by a responsible (licensed) adult. The remaining question is who is the licensing authority?
I recommend a panel be empowered with one person from the NRA, a policeman, and a doctor. Denial can be appealed to a judge (who is licensed). License and training fees should be used to fund this program. Over time I think this program has a chance to get illegal guns off the streets. The regulations for things like bump stocks and 20-30 round clips can be controlled through the licensing program as well. This type of licensing program allows people to continue to own and use guns that meets their second amendment rights but it will keep guns out of schools and get them out of the hands of criminals over time.