First question is whether we can really curb our gun violence epidemic with 300 million guns in circulation, 100 million of which are illegal. With severe penalties, say mandatory five or 10 year prison terms, we’d likely substantially reduce the illegals in circulation. Similarly the military style weapons which are only designed to kill people.
Second we need think about making guns a privilege, not a right. That would require federal registration, serious restrictions on ownership, e.g. no criminal records, mental instabilities, serious health and mental exams, training, etc. And we might want to reduce the tens of thousands of independent gun dealers many of whom have limited record keeping. Or stability.
Third, if we’re really serious we’d require photos and documented proof of safes used for storage. Guns are dangerous and need be safely stored when not used. Even well trained police officers are sometimes challenged to keep weapons locked up when off duty.
Fourth, we’d issue federal permits, not ones issued by states which vary a lot. That would curb the so called “highway gun trade,” where easily obtained guns are transferred over our nation’s highways to the more restrictive states.
Fifth, we’d take a serious interest in reducing the appalling gun violence routinely shown on TV and films. Is the gun toting cowboy of the traditional western really speaking for America? Ditto for War films.
Sixth, we’d completely restrict the sale of toy pistols and guns to our children. What kind of message does that send? Guns are designed to kill.
Seventh, we’d restrict entry to our schools with an armed guard and use metal detectors just like at our airports.
Eighth, we’d offer generous programs to buy back weapons. Suppose we offered $500 or even $1,000 per weapon. We’d likely eliminate several million weapons. Maybe many more. And if costs serious monies then they’d be well spent.
Ninth, impose substantial license/registration fees for owning guns or being permitted to carry them in order to cover the substantial costs of national registration and access. Obtaining an auto license isn’t cheap. Why not do better with guns designed to kill people ?
Tenth, greatly increase the penalties for bringing in guns into the country across our porous borders. The world is awash with guns. So the penalties need be commensurate.
Of course, any of these proposals would bring howls of protests from the tens of millions of gun owners across the nation. And not stand a chance. Which is precisely the point. When the politicians stop talking collectively we’re just not ready for serious reduction of our episodic gun violence that distinguishes America from the rest of the western world. We don’t let just anyone drive a car on federal highways. But when it comes to buying a deadly gun it’s a different story. It’s a Constitutional right. And tens of thousands of Americans die each year reflecting that right. And over our history more than a million have perished by the gun.
We ought do much better.
Peter I Berman