I have been thinking about an answer to the gun problem that we have in this country for a while now and I believe that I may have come up with a workable solution. At its core, the answer is pretty simple because it comes down to requiring gun owners to really be responsible for their guns. And I do mean really be responsible for their guns.
Gun activists repeat ad-nauseam that it is not guns that are the problem, but instead people are the problem. They tell us that 99.9% of gun owners are law-abiding citizens who would never do anything illegal with their weapons. They say that all they want is to be able to own virtually any kinds of guns and to use them for their personal enjoyment and to protect their property. They also assert that the Constitution guarantees them this right (which is itself a debatable topic for another diary).
So, to many gun enthusiasts, limiting our citizen's access to guns simply cannot be part of any solution. And given the fact that there are already so many guns in circulation in the United States, to some extent they may be right. But maybe there is something we can do. Maybe we can start making gun owners really be responsible for their guns.
Think about this. When you buy a car and then you wreck it into someone else, you are responsible for the damages. And when you loan your car to your friend and he wrecks your car into someone, as the owner of the car, you are still responsible for the lion’s share of the damages. If you were to leave your car running in your driveway with the doors wide open while several of the neighborhood’s young children were playing in the yard, you would be responsible if one of them got into the car and wrecked it too.
So, my proposal is this. People can (with some restrictions) have their guns, but the responsibilities for gun ownership will no longer end with the owner's interactions with his guns. From now on, gun owners will be responsible for not only what they do with their guns, but at least in part for what other people do with them as well.
For instance, if a 3 year old child manages to find your gun and kill himself (or someone else) with it, you will be held responsible and you will serve prison time. The younger the child that is killed with your gun, the more mandatory time you will be required to serve. It won’t matter if you are a state trooper or the child’s mother. If it was your gun that was not properly stored, then you were an irresponsible gun owner and you must serve time. No longer will such an incident merely be considered a terrible tragedy. It will also be the gun owner’s criminal failure and will carry a mandatory jail sentence.
If you train your unstable immature son to be awesome at shooting guns and he ends up going on a rampage and kills a bunch of people with your arsenal of guns, you will also be held responsible. Because it was your guns and the belief system that you passed down to your son that enabled him to commit the heinous crime, you must, as a responsible gun owner, pay your debt to society as well. The more people that are killed and injured in the melee with your guns, the longer your prison sentence.
If you own guns and you fail to adequately lock them away and one of your guns gets stolen and used in a robbery or a murder, you, as the gun owner, will also be held responsible. As a gun owner, it is your responsibility and duty to guarantee that you will keep your guns out of the wrong people’s hands. If you cannot do this, then you are not a responsible gun owner and there will be a price to pay for your failure. Any stolen gun would have to be reported immediately in order to avoid potentially receiving the maximum penalty for a crime committed using your stolen gun.
For this plan to work, all guns will have to be registered. Therefore, if at any time you are found with a gun that is not registered, that gun will be confiscated, you will be fined, and you may be subject to searches for any other unregistered firearms that you may possess. So, either register your guns, or risk losing them.
I could go on, but you get the picture. The Sandy Hook kid and his mom often shared quality time at a gun range and we are told that no one could have foreseen that he would use her personal arsenal to murder 26 people. Had his mother lived, do you think that she would have borne any responsibility for this crime under current gun laws? And, during the holidays another small child killed himself after finding a loaded gun in the house. Of course, this was a terrible tragedy, but it was also a crime and I don’t care that the gun owner was an Oklahoma state trooper. The problem we have is that gun owners are always responsible until such a time comes when they aren’t.
So why don’t we let the NRA and the gun enthusiasts walk the walk to go along with their talk? If these people are the responsible gun owners that they say they are, these laws should not be a problem for them. I mean, if you are sure that your guns will never accidentally kill a minor, you should support this law. If you are certain that people with access to your guns are not in any way unstable and would never hurt anyone with your guns, why not support the new law? If you always lock your guns away so as to prevent them from being stolen and to prevent their unauthorized use, you will have nothing to fear from this law and you should support it.
Let’s let gun owners really be responsible for their guns. And if they are not, let’s let them pay the penalty. Maybe requiring gun owners to take full responsibility for their guns would give some of them reason for pause before procurring their arsenal of weapons.