My Proposal for Addressing Gun Violence
|| The 2nd Amendment to the US Constitution reads in full, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” Most often when I hear the 2nd Amendment referred to it is only the second clause that is quoted, “…the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” Indeed the current law of the land from the Supreme Court is that the initial clause discussing does not limit individual ownership of firearms, nor does it require that gun owners be part of a “Militia.” Even so, I have no doubt the Founders chose their words carefully, so I think it is easily arguable that the first clause gives context to the second. I understand the legal arguments and believe my proposal below not only doesn’t contravene the 2nd Amendment, but is actually truer to its plain language.
I would propose that responsible gun ownership would start involving literal and not just figurative responsibility. Gun owners would be responsible for the use of their guns at all times, civilly and criminally. If you allow your three old to access your weapon and they hurt someone with it, you, as the gun owner, are responsible. It would not be a “tragic accident” so much as, by law, your fault. Firearms are inherently dangerous and to own them should come with that same inherent burden of responsibility.
Every firearm sold in the US has a unique serial number, so there is no reason why every firearms should not have an identified owner. Thefts must be reported, along with the corresponding serial number, and any and all sales must be reported and logged as well. The first step in responsibility, after all, is being willing to take ownership of your firearm. The registry would need to be National, but there is no reason why it needs to be public, nor that law enforcement without due process. It should be available for looking up firearms found in the commission of crimes, but looking up names of individuals should require a warrant. That way gun owners’ 4th Amendment rights to due process remain intact.
Responsibility also means training and regular testing for competency. It does say, after all, a “well regulated Militia.” If you cannot pass the test, then you are prohibited from owning firearm until you can pass the test. That also means any practicing you do is with a gun someone else owns and is ultimately responsible for, encouraging the owner to ensure the safety and responsibility of the shooter. In addition, military and/or law enforcement experience would not result in automatic passes of competency. Just because you have had the training, doesn’t mean you are capable of applying it.
People wanting to conceal carry or open carry would also be required to undergo additional training and need to demonstrate a much higher level of ability. Re-testing would have to take place on a regular basis and they would have to be evaluated not just on their firearms, but their decision making in crises situations as well. Their actions in a shooting incident would also be judged closer to that of law enforcement since they would have had extensive training and have to stay current with it in order to carry their firearm, whether openly or concealed.
There should also be a gradation in firearm training competency. The standards for a semi-automatic rifle with a large capacity magazine should require more stringent requirements than a single shot .22 rifle. There is a wide spectrum between long guns, shotguns, and hand guns, and the training should not just assume equality in weapons. It will not only aid in owners in being more responsibile, but will make owners more knowledgeable of the firearms they possess.
Finally, I think we need to recognize that as populations increase, the dangers of firearms increase as well. There need to be reasonable rules regarding gun use, carry, and training depending on whether an individual is in an urban, suburban, rural, or wilderness environment. Part of gun ownership would necessitate knowing the different rules governing firearms in the different areas.
This is by no means meant to be exhaustively described. It is very broad and there would be significant hurdles in both its implementation and the logistics associated with it. It would also mean that there was the necessary political will to make these changes, or any change for that matter, which I do not think is realistically going to happen for another generation, or more. In a small glimmer of hope, however, I thought the same thing about removing the Confederate Flag from State property.