Sunday, December 16, 2012

flint and steel

First, my disclaimer.  I come from a family of gun owners.  Mostly, we have rifles and shotguns that are used on the fish and game preserve.  A few of my family own guns for protective purposes.  In a more ideal world criminals wouldn't be able to so easily access guns and no one would need to exercise their second amendment rights.  I also acknowledge that the amount of damage that one person can cause with a firearm is a reason for alarm.  We need to do something about this and we need to do it soon.

When gun control is mentioned, the NRA uses their clout to shut down almost all attempts at legislation.  SB is one of the gun owners who is against most forms of gun control legislation that is proposed, and to an extent I am as well.  Most gun control legislation is agreeable such as banning those clips that carry hundred of shots without needing to reload (it should only take one shot to fell a deer) but then there is always something tacked on to the proposal that is unpalatable and keeps the legislation from being passed.  Both sides of the debate appear unwilling to agree on theoretical issues regarding gun ownership and rights in the US, and we are turning blue debating our points without attempting to look at the problem creatively.

Let's work on what we can agree on first.  Both sides will agree that violent crimes involving the use of guns, handguns especially, are plentiful and concerning.  I think that the first step is to set aside attempts to further handgun legislation (for now) and instead increase punishment for crimes involving the use of a gun.  The NRA can't find fault with that because it would also address their issues of disreputable people ruining it for all of us.  This would not curb all crime but there would at least be a segment of the population who would think twice about carrying a gun with them if they knew that getting caught would result in a high price to pay.

My next step would be to take a page from the anti-abortion groups.  A lot of states have found ways to deny abortions despite being in a pro-choice system by enacting TRAP (Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers) policies that make it almost impossible for an abortion clinic to operate such as requiring extremely stringent building codes including excessively wide doors and huge operating rooms, and forcing doctors to live closer to their clinics where they can more easily be harassed and threatened.

I would suggest that instead of attempting to abolish the second amendment, which would be long, costly and most likely unfruitful, gun control proponents should borrow from the TRAP regulators.  Maybe include mental heath assessments to be provided by licensed psychologists.  Perhaps require fingerprints to be added to a federal database; a lot of libertarians would have huge issues with this.  How about adding some building codes for gun shops that required beefed up security and surveillance?  While resolving the larger questions regarding free will and rights versus safety and prevention seems to be a long way away, there are things we can do now if only people would think more creatively.

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