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This is basically my appeal, as a former Republican voter, to the right-wing for finding common ground on the gun control debate. just a draft, criticize at will:

Mass shootings in Aurora (twice), Newtown, Fort Hood, as well as continuous daily shootings plaguing both urban and rural America, have recently catapulted the debate over gun control into the mainstream of discourse. The use of semi-automatic rifles with large capacity magazines has led leaders on both sides of the aisle to promote restrictions on these firearm and components, as well as proposals to close the 'private sale exemption'.

    Staunch opponents of gun control, such as the National Rifle Association, insist that any restrictions on the supply or purchasing of firearms or firearm components is out of the question and, to quote NRA president Wayne LaPierre on his interview with David Gregory on Meet The Press, “It just won't work.” This is a stark philosophical contrast to the NRA's willingness to embrace armed guards in schools to protect children, which has proven to be at least partially ineffective (in the particular application of the idea in Columbine High School).

    While the heinous attack by Adam Lanza on Sandy Hook Elementary school, resulting in the deaths of 20 young children and six adult educators, has prompted many Republicans to rethink their zero-tolerance policy of gun control, holdouts from the fringe Tea Party faction have stuck to their principles and continued their fight from where it left off after the Littleton shooting in 1998. Their strategy now, as it was then, is to change the debate from one of availability and ease of procurement of firearms to an attack on a 'culture of violence' perpetuated by video games and Hollywood movies.

    A proposal put out by the White House presumably as a trial balloon has consisted of a bullet-point list of reforms that would be needed on a federal level to help address the issue of widespread gun violence in the country, to name a few:

- Elimination of the private sale exemption for waiting period/background checks on gun purchases (known to gun control advocates as the “gun show loophole”)

- National registration of all firearms and sales

- National registration and thorough vetting/training of gun owners (new or existing)

- Limitations/bans on high-capacity magazines and certain firearms

- Stronger checks/penalties for carrying around schools, etc.

    These are just broad policies and don't include many other smaller reforms. Note that banning all firearms or overhauling the Second Amendment is not on the agenda of any mainstream politicians or think tanks. The proposal outlined thus far by the President's working group consists merely of federal regulations to help better control guns and prevent them from getting in the hands of the wrong people. It also gives us some basis for discussion on specific reforms to address gun violence. While there are numerous contentious and practical problems with the ideas, such as banning high-capacity magazines or certain firearms when there are already a large supply, there are a couple of the principle changes which should essentially be a no-brainer, upon where both sides of the political aisle should be able to agree. So, rather than delve into the merits of the cultural commentary of gun-control opponents or the specific policy ideas of regulation-happy gun-conrol advocates, this essay will focus specifically on:

(1) the elimination of the national private firearm sale exemption from background checks and,
(2) the implementation of national standards for licensing of gun owners/operators

Click below to continue reading rest of the essay.

Elimination of Private Sale Exemption

    Currently, if you buy a firearm through a licensed dealer, you will face (in most states) a waiting period and a background check to confirm mental health and criminal history. However, nationally, 40% of all gun sales occur through gun shows and other private venues, effectively skirting the requirements to maintain records and conduct due diligence to ensure that the purchaser has a clean record and good intentions.

    The private sale exemption, known pejoratively and misleadingly by gun control advocates as “the gun show loophole” was firmly established under the Firearm Owners Protection Act of 1986, which enables individual collectors and enthusiasts to buy and sell firearms “on occasion” without any background check or waiting period, so long as they don't make a business out of it.  Various state regulations differ on how this is implemented, with some states requiring the buyer and seller to be residents. However, in all states, if the seller suspects that an individual would not pass a background check, then they may not engage in the sale. There is currently no set standard to govern what may reasonably be construed as a suspicion of failing a background check.

    It is clear then that there is a theoretical potential for abuse: individuals with mental illness histories, criminal records, or malicious hidden agendas can freely purchase firearms in the vast majority of American states without being subject to any vetting whatsoever, save for the snap judgment of the seller in whether or not the person seems like someone who would pass a background check. But the concern and potential for abuse goes far beyond theoretical consequences, there has indeed been real-life consequences to this exeption being abused.

    The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms has published numerous reports expressing their concern over the lax regulations of private sales of firearms, and how it has led and will continue to lead to criminals being able to acquire firearms, and also for “straw purchasers” to acquire large numbers of firearms to be trafficked to gangs and drug cartels. In one such report in 2000 titled “Follow the Gun”, the ATF engaged in numerous investigations to probe the validity of such concerns, and confirmed their worst fears when it was estimated that 26,000 firearms were illegally distributed to dangerous individuals over the course of the study. Another report from 2009 cited by the Government Accountability Office, stated that “Many of these firearms come from....gun shows in Southwest border states.”

    The private sale exemption, as it is currently implemented, leaves major inconsistencies across states in their gun control policies. While dozens of states (particularly in the North) have regulations that seek to close this federal private sale exemption of background checks and waiting periods, there's no way to control for individuals who abuse more lax laws in Southern states to acquire firearms, and then traffic them into states who seek to better control the supply of guns. It's this inconsistency which has prompted the need for federal intervention on the issue, to promote consistency of policies across states and help protect the entire nation from the abuse of this gaping loophole. Action by the federal government would by no means ban private sale of guns, but require some conduit (e.g., existing federally licensed firearm dealers) that could enforce a background check against the purchaser to ensure they are not unfit to own a firearm due to criminality or mental instability.

    Wayne Lapierre has stated on numerous occasions that we need a national mental health registry, a policy with which I agree entirely. If this registry is used to help control who can acquire firearms and help us conduct a more humane justice policy in treatment of the mentally ill in criminal cases, then it can be a very positive influence on our society. However, what good is this idea if there is a private sale exemption that allows the mentally ill to circumvent the background check?

    Closing the private sale exemption is a move we must undertake to help prevent both the straw purchase of guns off the record that have been shown to lead to higher illegal trafficking of weapons to criminals and the purchase of guns by individuals with mental instability and criminal records. While it's a shame that responsible gun owners will suffer waiting periods and background checks in their purchase of firearms, it's a small price to pay to ensure that criminals and the mentally unstable do not have the ability to acquire deadly weapons with ease.

National Standards for Firearm Licensing

    The analogy between automobiles and firearms is undeniably strong. Both are considered a tool first and foremost, which do a lot of good and are necessary by current cultural standards, for smooth operation of our society. Additionally, firearms and automobiles are both killing machines, responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths annually in the United States, either through malice or accident.  Finally, they are both ubiquitous in our society and ingrained in our cultural values.

    Given the high levels of use of both guns and cars by individuals in the United States, accidents are bound to happen, and so too are violent crimes. This is unavoidable, but we have to set standards to help reduce the occurrence of such incidences involving both tools.

    When someone close to us is victimized in an accident or incident involving a car or a gun, we don't play politics and insist that people should be able to operate cars or guns freely regardless of consequences. Instead, we should ask ourselves, “could this have been avoided with simple systemic regulation?”

    In reponse to this question, it becomes immediately puzzling that individuals in the United States may purchase a gun in some states without demonstrating a single clue on how to use it. We wouldn't let anyone drive around the streets of a single state in the country without having a license (in good standing), which demonstrates that the individual can indeed operate an automobile and does not have any infractions that would call into question their safe operation of such a tool. So why would we let individuals buy or use guns without having demonstrated a similar standard of safe operational knowledge?

    The issue, similar to the private sale exemption enforcement, is that on a state-by-state basis there are inconsistencies in the standards that an individual must meet in order to legally purchase a firearm.  Some states allow you to buy guns no questions asked, other states closely restrict ownership. There is an imbalance in the regulatory structure for purchasing of firearms that leaves states who wish to have stronger control vulnerable to the laissez-faire approaches of other states.

    One model that may be looked at for successful processes of vetting and licensing ALL gun owners (not just concealed carry permits) are states like Florida, which have a process to verify that those who wish to lawfully carry a concealed weapon can demonstrate that they can operate a firearm safely and  understand the rules of engagement and accepted use. Instead of limiting this licensing process to concealed carry of firearms,  it should be applied to all gun ownership. There should be federally-enforced national minimal standards, and then put into the states' hands the responsibility to issue the licenses that meet the standard. This way, states will be able to customize their program but enforce it on some agreed standard that all states can live with. We don't let states abolish driver's licenses and allow people without a clue on how to safely operate a motor vehicle go around our roads risking our safety, and we shouldn't allow individuals to own guns without having demonstrated the ability to operate them safely.

    This is essentially the question we need to be asking ourselves: why isn't there a federal standard which sets a bare minimum required by states to regulate the ownership of a firearm?  Not just concealed carry (which should be separated from the issue of licensing of gun ownership), but if you want to be a gun operator, just like if you operate an automobile, you should have some proof that you know what you're doing. Like an automobile, a firearm is a tool that can be deadly, and safe operation is critical to society's interest in maintaining order.


    Handling private sale exemption or gun ownership licensing on a state-by-state basis is a losing solution. We live in a united nation where we wish to travel freely across state borders and have minimum standards across the country. Implementing state regulations to cover private exemption loopholes or gun ownership vetting/licensing without federal minimum standards will not work. If there is even one state that shirks on a responsibility to the nation by avoiding background checks of all firearm sales, or by allowing gun ownership without demonstration of ability to operate safely, then the integrity of the system collapses.

    Addressing the private sale exemption and lack of gun operation licensing on a federal level is a necessary step for the nation to take in order to address devastating shortfalls in our regulatory framework. These two basic measures should be an area of common ground for all individuals across the political spectrum. Details of how action in these areas will by implemented may differ from person to person, but the guiding principles must be embraced by those on both sides. Nothing we can do will prevent mass shootings or gun violence (save for the impossible task of confiscating all guns on earth), but this will at least set a foundation for us to make changes as a society toward reducing unnecessary deadly events. With this established commonality, we can move forward with a bi-partisan compromise to engage in further gun control that may vary by state depending upon local culture and standards.

Originally posted to AusteritySucks on Wed Jan 09, 2013 at 04:25 AM PST.

Also republished by Shut Down the NRA.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Note to self/others (4+ / 0-)


    This isn't by any means intended to ignore the gun control fight we have to have on removing high cap mags and certain firearms from society.

    Instead, this is meant to just be sort of the starting point in the gun control debate. In other words, like saying "oh, these are things that we should have both been agreeing on before, let's get that done."

    From here we can have a back and forth philosophical discussion on state/federal roles in relating supply and sale and posession of high-capacity magazines and certain firearms.

    I was just hoping that the two issues discussed in the essay could be regarded as given needed reforms.

  •  "gun control" is an agenda that is designed to (8+ / 0-)

    fail. Might as well call for hammer control or drug control.

    The issue is humans exercising self-control and, in some few cases, totally antagonistic humans deciding to eliminate the lives of people they don't like.

    While I happen to think guns, missiles and bombs are a coward's tools, designed to inflict damage without risking injury to the self, restricting the tools is useless, although not making them in the first place might have some positive effect. "Control" is a delusion. The notion appeals mainly to people who can't exercise self-control and imagine they can control other people instead.

    The more salient question, it seems to me, is how come so many citizens of the United States are so antagonistic towards their fellow man. The answer, I suspect, has to do with the fact that the promise of the national experiment (life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness) has never yet been realized. Instead, we have been handed ownership, of things and people (property rights), as a sop to compensate for the fact that our inherent properties (speech, association, recreation, replication, bodily integrity) have been and continue to be routinely disrespected. After all, the state still claims the right to prematurely extinguish the lives of persons who violate some stricture and parents are given ownership of children, whom they are free to abuse, as long as it's not too visible. A million children run away from homes each year and those are, most likely, the less aggressive and less antagonistic.
    When people are treated like commodities, that can't be good for them.
    Women are being denied medical care for life-threatening conditions (EVERY pregnancy is potentially deadly) to satisfy the interests of the contributors of sperm, which they otherwise routinely discard with abandon and self-control is out the window.

    How do we promote self-control and care for the well-being of other people? Not with gun control.

    We organize governments to deliver services and prevent abuse.

    by hannah on Wed Jan 09, 2013 at 05:08:05 AM PST

    •  I respect your opinion, (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Sandino, Glen The Plumber, 43north

      In an ideal world we wouldn't need regulation and control...but in practical terms we should come to terms with some sensible light regulation.

      •  "To regulate" is to make regular. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        JayFromPA, 43north

        Humans consider the regular better than the random because regular lets them take advantage of memory and predict the future.
        "Environmental regulation" has largely been a failure in terms of eliminating the dispersal of toxins into air and water and on the land (forget underground) because the regular emission of poisons is no better than the random. Never mind that making the environment regular is contrary to the natural state of diversity on which organic existence depends.

        The argument environmental regulators rely on to support their agenda is that, eventually, the regular collection of data will enable them to "prove" beyond a shadow of a doubt that spewing or pouring out concentrated toxins is a danger to public health and then they can call a halt. Meanwhile, they continue to hope that the solution to pollution is dilution and they won't have to reverse man's habit of using Mother Nature as his toilet after all.
        Regulation and control do not eliminate toxins -- i.e. things that are inimical to life. Guns are inimical to life. That's their purpose. Regulation and control won't change that.

        I have no pesticides or herbicides or organicides around me. So, I don't have to be concerned about regulation and control. What can I do about my neighbors? Nothing. It's a free country. I can expect them to respect my privacy, but that's all.

        If we inculcated respect for privacy by our words and actions, would we preclude people abusing and/or shooting their own kind?

        We organize governments to deliver services and prevent abuse.

        by hannah on Wed Jan 09, 2013 at 05:37:50 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  This'll be worth watching; and thank you (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    for being rational and reasoned in this. This is similar to ideas I've been floating lately, including the idea of  declaring all "tactical firearms*" to be subject to the controls similar to short-barrel rifles, which are subject to registration and transfer tax.

    I'd also say that there needs to be serious staffing & funding for getting mental health records to be a part of every NICS check, and make that mandatory for sales.

    *(I eschew the term "assault rifles" since "assault rifle" has another, specific meaning and it tends to confuse the issue by implying that fully automatic capable firearms are available for sale to the general public when, indeed, they are not).

    •  Yes I agree with economic solutions as well... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Sandino taxation and regulations that spur the need of staffing solve revenue and employment problems in the country as well.

      And using taxation to dissuade ownership, and credits and buy-backs to encourage sale and purchase of safety equipment.

      But the noisiest part of the right-wing seems to be saying DONT TAKE THE GUNS! So this common ground i'm trying to establish is intended merely to say, "okay, this has nothing to do with taking guns, just preventing nutters and idiots from getting gets and creating a soft licensing program that can even unite gun owners in communities so they can have a license like a driver's license showing they know what tehy're doing.

      The NRA and other organizations could assist in the matter by helping to organize the safety programs they say they are so good at doing.

      •  You contradict yourself. (7+ / 0-)
        This isn't by any means intended to ignore the gun control fight we have to have on removing high cap mags and certain firearms from society.
        And that is what leads many to believe that this:
        okay, this has nothing to do with taking guns
        is a blatent lie.

        First point of "common ground"?  Sort out that discrepency.

      •  And this: (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        aguadito, KVoimakas, Tom Seaview, oldpunk
        The NRA and other organizations could assist in the matter by helping to organize the safety programs they say they are so good at doing.
        ...already exists here and here.
        •  But that should be for federal licensing programs. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Sandino, PavePusher

          Yes and I'm suggesting that thohse programs they say they are so good at implementing should be incorporated in an official federal licensing program for gun owners.

          •  That's a political issue. (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            aguadito, KVoimakas, Tom Seaview, oldpunk

            The NRA's been training people for years, and offering safety programs at low-or-no-cost to schools for decades.

            The responses of sheer hyperbolic horror and vitriol from the anti-gun crowd are shocking.

            Many instructors have been offering free classes to teachers for some time.  When they started doing training of teachers in Utah last week, the lamentations and wailing neared crescendo level.

            So what you seem to want to implement doesn't seem to be what a large political block really wants.  And it's the political block that we both have direct links to.  I don't know how to reconcile the dichotomy.

            Recced for the thoughtful responses, thanks!

            •  Not sure... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Glen The Plumber

              ...what a large political block really wants re: licensing of ownership.

              I think most gun owners that I've known pride themselves on their gun ownership and wouldn't mind a simple licensing procedure to prove they can at least shoot straight and know some basic rules.

              Heck, most of my friends who own guns want to avoid dumbasses who dont know how to shoot being able to buy a gun.

              Plus once they got the license they can buy whatever guns they want and just pass a mental/criminal background check.

              Also that's just the common ground i was establishing in the essay.

              I personally think it should go even further, but I'm just trying to get some "small victories" for everyone and avoid a bi-polar debate where left-wingers are going for banning all guns and right-wingers are against any background checks.

              There's common ground here! We have to find it and embrace it, and then find some compromise on issues beyond that.

              I've also recc'd all your comments for the insight.

      •  Not sure this (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        KVoimakas, rockhound, jung123
        using taxation to dissuade ownership
        will fly, since it mainly establishes an economic test for the exercise of a right.

        "A lie is not the other side of a story; it's just a lie."

        by happy camper on Wed Jan 09, 2013 at 08:03:02 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Not bad (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    aguadito, deedogg, oldpunk, happy camper

    I do not think I can agree with banning private sales from a civil liberties standpoint (is there any similar item for which this is required?), but making an "instant check" system available to private sellers is definitely a good idea. Some people have proposed using a registered FFL holder as the intermediate party who performs the check. So, instead of you and he meeting in the Walmart parking lot and exchanging cash and gun, you go to the local gun store, pay some token fee for a buyer background check, and complete the transaction there.

    I do think that some form of competency-based licensing is also a good idea.

  •  Completely lost me here: (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    aguadito, Glen The Plumber
      Wayne Lapierre has stated on numerous occasions that we need a national mental health registry, a policy with which I agree entirely.
    This is an invitation to completely demonize yet another section of the community, and it cannot be allowed to stand.

    I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
    but I fear we will remain Democrats.

    Who is twigg?

    by twigg on Wed Jan 09, 2013 at 05:55:23 AM PST

  •  what do your two focus points (0+ / 0-)

    have to do with mass shootings? surely you're not using a tragedy to try to pass unrelated laws?

    •  But why not? (0+ / 0-)

      It's part of the overall discussion of gun control.

      The high-profile events of mass shootings just sort of make us think about the greater issue of gun control more, since white people were shot in every-day situations.

      If the issue was framed around black gangsters killing each other nobody would give a shit and i won't weaken my argument with that kind of mention.

  •  Tipped and Rec'd (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    aguadito, Joieau, Joy of Fishes

    While I don't agree with some of your positions, I do agree with your tone and level of informed discourse.

    I believe that the NICS needs to have a Federal funding for database management, which employs persons at the State level, to ensure timely input of data.

    I believe we have to address the "mental health loophole" and there is an opportunity to use the NRA position to force Federal funding for Mental Health Care.  Let's not blow this chance.

    I think the bar needs to be higher than a cop saying:  "nutter" and putting you on a list.  
    There needs to be due process, involving medical professionals, and a judicial hearing.
    The process shouldn't rise to the level of impeachment, nor should a now-well person have to seek a Presidential Pardon.

    I believe the requirement for gun safety education would lessen the rate of pre-teen children shooting children.
    I don't want to read another "... it just went off!" story - ever.

    I believe if we adopt a similar program to hunter safety education for our teen-aged children, we'll lessen accidents too.  Raising the content level of gun safety courses to be age-appropriate.

    Lessening teen-on-teen homicides is a matter of addressing poverty, drugs, gangs, and hopelessness.
    Youth, often sees things as black or white.  Now or never.  Yes or no.  Status or disrespect.  When that's all you have to look forward to, bad choices follow.

    My one visible diary sets out what I believe the age for unsupervised gun access should be.  There's a lot of disagreement about that.  
    Much as I can send you to war at 18, but not hand you a beer, how can I take a veteran at age 22 and say "no gun for you"?  And if s/he can have a gun at age 22, then what about the kid who didn't: "get trained to be another Timothy McVey"?

    We love our troops, as they were fresh-faced kids we played Little League ball with.  When they come home as physically/mentally scarred adults, it's a whole 'nuther thing.
    They become complex.  Problematic.
    Not easily labeled, unless NO GUN 4 U is the label we pick.

    I don't see that as working, as someone who's always been surrounded by veterans.  The only solution for veterans, is veterans helping veterans.

    Gotta go... three meetings between now and 5 pm EST.
    I'll look back in later today.

    Again, thank you for the level of discourse.

  •  Not sure why you seem to be getting attacked (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Glen The Plumber, Joy of Fishes

    so much for what is a very mild and rational diary. Thanks for putting this together. I think what you lay out is the least that ought to happen, but that there will probably be a little more legislated.

    “liberals are the people who think that cruelty is the worst thing that we do” --Richard Rorty Also, I moved from NYC, so my username is inaccurate.

    by jeff in nyc on Wed Jan 09, 2013 at 06:16:50 AM PST

  •   Rational discussion, I like (5+ / 0-)

    Here's from my point of view:
      Most Laws and Regulations do not prevent crime. They are there to deal with the after effects.
    There are some that do have some effect, such as environmental controls on Industry, or Financial regulations to prevent economic collapse. But they remain permeable, as witnessed by the continuation of carbon release, and our recurring recessions, depressions, and inflations. So it fixes some problems but does nothing to stop, or slow the destruction of the planet, or life as we know it.
     If we want a more peaceful and safe society, we need to actually create it. Legislation designed to repair Society will always outweigh any attempts to legislate its flaws.
     I believe more than ever that Universal Health Care and increased funding for Mental Health, a Living Wage, and ending the Drug War will create the environment that reduces man's assaults on itself. Not only that, but it will occur much more rapidly than any other attempts, measured in days weeks and months, rather than years, and decades.

    "The United States is a nation of laws: badly written and randomly enforced." -Zappa My Site

    by meagert on Wed Jan 09, 2013 at 07:01:03 AM PST

  •  The Swiss opted for very intrusive regs (0+ / 0-)

    We can do that...and confiscate on a by-case basis.

    People who want their gun freedom can do with much, much less privacy in trade.

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