My Slightly Informed Opinion on Gun Regulations

Friday, December 21, 2012

Where do we go from here? The regulations I propose below are what I think we should consider. I have not given much thought to what might already be in place or where it bumps up against the 2nd Amendment.

1) Personal Responsibility.
Having personally witnessed a great deal of stupidity when it comes to handling firearms, I have always thought we need strict penalties for irresponsible behavior. In the case of the Newtown shooting, the rifle used was purchased legally. As far as I know, there would be no penalties for the woman who owned it allowing her mentally ill kid access to the weapon. (Had she lived.) If your kid gets a hold of your gun, especially if someone is hurt because of it, you should serve time. Once a Michigan legislator had a handgun drop out of his pocket in the middle of a committee hearing. (If the urban legend is true.) There should have been a penalty for his stupidity as it endangered others. I have personally seen a parent hand rifles to their 10-year-old and let them run off and have fun. Maybe this one is already illegal?

In my experience people have acted as if the rights provided by the 2nd Amendment means freedom from responsibility. If we do nothing else, we need to change that mindset. That is definitely not how I was raised around firearms.

2) Capacity.
I would support a strict limit on magazine capacity. Capacity should be limited to the single digits. Since I have limited knowledge of firearms, I think of hunting shotguns with a four-shell magazine and handguns with something more reasonable than a 10 + magazine capacity. In a recent editorial in the LA Times, a judge who sentenced Congresswomen Gabby Gifford’s assailant and the killer of 6 others said: “Bystanders got to Loughner and subdued him only after he emptied one 31-round magazine and was trying to load another.”

3) Ownership limitations
I would support a limit on the number of weapons you own. Sorry if it infringes on your hobby or fun collection, but your arsenal is unnecessary in a civilized society. Take up stamp collecting. Let’s debate this one.

4) Certain weapons banned.
There should be a ban on certain weapons based on their technical performance. As Smitty says: guns are killing machines. We have a constitutional right to a certain level of killing machine. I am not sure you could argue we have the right a mass-killing machine. I have little doubt we could come up with a list of impermissible characteristics based on their technical performance.

5) Call me a gun-grabber.
Banned firearms, clips, etc. should be bought back by the government at a higher than market price. I don’t support grandfathering existing weapons from restrictions as was done previously. It sounds like Australia has a model for this program. I would like to learn more about it.

6) Ammunition Sales Ammunition sales should be limited.
I am betting this one would be difficult to enforce. I recently read that once you obtain a gun permit in Israel, you are issued your only supply of ammunition. Interesting concept. Liquor sales are controlled by state government. Why not other items?

7) Better and more widely used background checks.
I need to better understand private sale regulations, but this is what I think... Background checks should be instantaneous, reliable, applicable to all guns sales, and include the private sales of weapons. You should need to obtain a purchase permit with your background check before you buy a weapon in a private sale. If you sell a weapon privately without obtaining a copy of said check, you should see a penalty. This would also require a better involvement from mental health providers and would require a discussion about mental illness and confidentiality. I know people can still obtain weapons illegally, but that is no excuse for handing weapons to the mentally ill or to those with a violent background.


steves 2:04 PM  

1. Children cannot possess firearms, but can shoot them under supervision. I think there are laws in place to go after negligent gun owners, but I don't see an issue with beefing them up or trying something new.

2. I think I have already beat this one to death, but I can think of a few more angles if you want.

3. I am not sure why this would help. I have not seen any research on this, so I don't think I could argue it in a logical way.

4. What kind of list? Unfortunately, the same things that make guns deadly are the same things that are desired as tool for self-defense.

5. This would cost billions. It wouldn't even be necessary. This would fall under an exception to the takings clause and could be confiscated with no compensation.

6. What would this accomplish?

7. Nationally, the only sales that are subject to background checks are ones from a dealer. In MI, all handgun sales are subject to a background check. I don't think it is needed, but there is no constitutional barrier.

Streak 5:29 PM  

I am still unsure why capacity cannot be limited. I also think there has to be a way to reduce access to semi-auto rifles. Perhaps this is my upbringing speaking, but we used to take pride in shooting guns that required throwing a bolt or pump or lever. But then again, that was when the NRA was about hunters. I am certainly not convinced that any home owner needs a Bushman to defend his or her house. As many have said, if you need 30 rounds to subdue your assailant, you may be in over your head.

I think limiting ammo, or even perhaps just applying a big tax to ammunition might be a good solution. We could use the tax on ammunition to fund healthcare.

One question. I hear lots of people talk about the gun show loophole, yet I get the idea from Steve that at least in Michigan, there is no difference between a gun show sale and one in a gun shop? Is that accurate? Are there pretty big differences across states for this?

steves 8:59 PM  

Streak, I am not sure the best way to explain it, without sounding all tactical and dull. If you know any cops, ask them what they carry. Remember that they don't usually get into big shootouts and they also have back up carbines and shotguns. Most police agencies transitioned from 6 shot revolvers to 19 shot Gocks in the early 1980's.

steves 9:02 PM  

Hunting and self defense are two very different situations. I have never taken more than 2 shots while hunting. In a self defense situation, you fire until the threat is gone. I wold also imagine it us far more stressful.

steves 9:17 PM  

The gun show loophole is not really a loophole. I believe it references a private sale at a gunshow. Most private sales don't involve a background check. The people selling guns at most shows are FFLs and they have to do background checks. Most shows will not let private sales happen.

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