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Thursday, December 27, 2012

A Proposed Way to Reduce Gun Violence

I support the right of sane & law-abiding citizens to own and use
guns. But many guns that were originally purchased by regular people
are now in the hands of criminals or mentally ill persons.  I think
that the law should make gun owners more responsible for preventing
such transfers.  So what I'm proposing is that whenever a gun is found
in the possession of someone other than the original owner, there is a
presumption of a crime by the owner. The crime would most likely be
culpable negligence. That would be the case if there was no criminal
intent, but the owner sold the gun, or left it behind when moving, or
failed to take reasonable measures to keep it from being stolen. In
order to transfer a gun from one private party to another, there would
have to be a registration process. To skip this registration process
would be culpable negligence.  If a gun is stolen, the police must be
notified so that there is a record of that event.  When an heir
acquires a gun due to a death, a similar procedure must occur.

What this would do is give gun owners additional motivation to prevent
their guns from falling into the wrong hands.  Would it have prevented
Adam Lanza from getting his hands on one of his mother's guns in her
basement, loading it, and killing her?  We cannot know that, but at
least Nancy Lanza, as part of her weapons training, would have been
told about the law. That might have made her more aware of the risk
she was taking.

But this approach certainly cannot prevent all gun violence.  What it
would do is cause many gun owners to think a little more about the
whereabouts of their guns. That ought to have a positive effect on our
national gun violence problem.


  1. Good idea, but I have additional suggestions:

    When I was a teenager in Florida, I (and every other male I knew) had a veritable arsenal hanging on my bedroom wall. And yet somehow none of those guns were ever used unsafely. I attribute this in part to a "kinder, gentler world", but in equal part to the fact that we were all trained thoroughly in gun safety. We knew how to maintain, store, handle and use our guns, because we didn't get to graduate from a BB gun to a .22 until we had demonstrated said skills and responsibilities to our families' satisfaction.

    Meanwhile, how many times as many people are killed by or in automobiles due to careless, irresponsible or incompetent use of same? We make an effort to stem this tide of blood by forcing everyone to pass tests before they are allowed to drive. This helps a bit.

    So I would suggest that people should have to pass similar tests in order to obtain a license to handle or own a gun. BB guns are unlicensed as long as they lack sufficient muzzle velocity to break human skin; for a pellet gun you only need a learner's permit; for a .22 you need to show additional competence and responsibility; more for a shotgun, and still more for a hunting rifle. An assault rifle might well be license-able, but the examinations and prior record of safe use would be daunting, a bit like obtaining a Chauffeur's License to drive a schoolbus. Maybe moreso. Combine this with your idea and maybe it would have some effect; but to really clear things up you'd have to get rid of all the shoot-em-up video games and then wait a generation....

    Of course, for either of these to get a toehold you'd have to require universal registration so that only criminals would have unregistered guns. The NRA would say this violates their enshrined rights. Yeah, well... how about my right to wear shoes at the airport? No one seems to think that's worth protecting. Americans don't seem to care much about their rights since 9/11.

    Food for thought: what if Henry Ford had pushed through a Constitutional Amendment enshrining everyone's right to own and drive a car?

    1. I think guns and automobiles should be treated the same. Both are potentially dangerous machines which are very useful and loved by
      many. You should need to be tested to get a license for either, and both should be registered.

      Cars & guns, treat 'em the same.


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