This is a follow up to my previous post, Why I Oppose Universal Background Checks, in which I examined the idea that requiring background checks will inevitably take us down the path of registration. Obviously, to some the objective is a complete ban and confiscation of all guns and they see Universal Background Checks and ensuing registration as mere stepping stones on this path. Even if, on an individual basis, the objective is less than a complete eradication of civilian gun ownership, it is still apparent that these items are seen as part of a larger process of systematic restrictions, to which I quote this forum’s own Meteor Blades:
My view is timing. Dems should start with background checks, gun trafficking, more funding for ATF to trace guns and then try magazine capacity and the almost-certainly-will-fail assault weapons ban in that order. That way, some victories will be had and that might build momentum for other victoriesThere are several problems with the current approaches to gun control, or restrictions, not the least of which is the issue of enforcement. As Otteray Scribe eloquently put it:
Any law that is unenforceable is worthless”, and, “Any law passed needs to be enforceable, within the bounds of what law enforcement agencies can handle, and have the support of the general populace.Yet another problem with the current approach being the lack of acceptance by society at large and by the gun rights community in particular. Over the last several weeks we have seen several proposals all fail to gain traction without progress and both sides becoming more hardened in their positions as a result. Much of this I attribute to the attitude of making the issue a win-lose rather than a win-win. If we are to make real, sensible, progress we need to approach the problem differently. We need to work smarter, not harder. I explore some ideas for this below.
Before getting to the proposals there are a few prerequisites that need to be discussed. The first is the idea of compromise because the ultimate solution will be a compromise. In the current political climate, compromise appears to be akin to Internet trolling or even a used car sales tactic. Throw out a ridiculous demand that is sure to be rejected and see what is offered up in sacrifice. This isn’t compromise. Compromise is where both sides make concessions and get some of what they want. What I propose below is a compromise in the sense that neither the far Left, nor the far Right will like it but it should meet the needs and requirements of the population at large. If your objective is a repeal of the 2nd Amendment, you are sure to be disappointed. If you believe that the 2nd Amendment is the only permit you need, you will likewise be unhappy.
The second thing that needs to be acknowledged is that in the United States, the common, lawful citizen has the right to have and use guns and that it is a right, not a granted privilege. This right is guaranteed by the nation’s Constitution and has been incorporated in application to the states. The terms, conditions, and limitations of this right are determined by the legislatures and courts at multiple levels. This means that gun rights are both a federal and state issue. The federal role is to apply general rules that will apply everywhere and these may in turn be modified by the states. This is important because a one size fits all solution is not possible. What works for Texas will not work in Massachusetts and the solution needs to account for this.
The third thing that needs to be recognized is that the issue is about people more than it is about guns. The goal is to reduce crime and violence, which are caused by people. This will be accomplished by working with people and applying actions affecting people. The main objective is to keep weapons out of the hands of people who should not have them, while still respecting the rights of those who are entitled to the choice, and facilitate enforcement of the laws. In practical terms this means passing a suitable background check in order to possess or purchase a weapon. Keeping the above conditions in mind, my proposal for effective and workable gun control is as follows:
• Make all gun ownership permit based. Most states have a concealed carry permit system and I propose that this be extended to all gun ownership, including long guns.
• In order to obtain a permit, you must pass a background check that includes a mental health records review.
• A permit is required for all weapon and ammo purchases.
• That permits be issued by the states and are accepted nationally. When traveling in another state, the citizen is responsible for complying with that state’s laws.
• There should be a national minimal standard for training and certification for all states.
• That the permit be renewed periodically and that the renewal is accompanied by an updated background and mental health check.
• A system like the NICS be used and applied as part of the permit process rather than the purchase process
• That the Tiahrt amendments be repealed and enforcement of laws is made a priority
• Permits are shall issue to any citizen who meets the requirements
• That the permit process may not be made into a form of tax designed to restrict ownership to a particular class of citizens and the fees must be nominal.
• That there be no per gun registration. The owner is licensed, not the guns and the individual is responsible for reporting lost or stolen guns.
• That any restrictions apply equally to both civilians and the police.
Additionally some of the burden should be pushed to the states. States would be responsible for:
• Setting additional training requirements on obtaining a permit
• Determining what types of weapons and capacity are allowed within the state subject to compliance with Federal and Supreme Court rulings such as “in common use” that prohibit the categorical ban of weapons.
• Determining where weapons may be carried and by whom, such as schools, churches, and hospitals and if special permits and corresponding training are necessary for this purpose.
• Setting the penalties for gun possession without a permit, subject to federal minimums
• Setting standards for safe storage of firearms
The idea behind this approach is simple. You need to have a permit to have a gun and to get a permit you have to pass a background check, period. If someone is found in possession of a gun and does not have a permit they are subject to prosecution. Interpersonal transactions would still be allowed amongst people with permits. This recognizes that the law abiding will generally remain so and that no legal requirement will ever squelch a black market. By requiring a permit to possess a gun, the registration requirement of both new and existing guns is avoided and it becomes much easier for law enforcement to deal with illegal possession.