The Soapbox: My Opinion on Gun Control and Responsibility

(As opposed to the former Gun Control). Updated February 21, 2011.


Rationale: Why this Page?

In late April 1996, I reacted to the horror of another massacre of people by a gun-toting maniac in Tasmania by putting a page on my site against guns. Reaction was swift and negative (unsurprisingly), which forced me to rethink and rewrite the page into something more rational, which has been sitting pretty much untouched since late November, 2001. Needless (and sadly) to say, the massacre that started it all was not the last 8-(.

After giving the page a long, long overdue review, I decided that it was still too verbose and emotional, and figured that I could take a step back and make my arguments more concise. For those who are interested, I have kept the old page and you can see it here.

Summary

Guns and automobiles can be treated the same as far as licensing is concerned. Some people should not be allowed to drive; some people should not be allowed to legally own firearms. Some (albeit not many) vehicles should not be owned by the average person on the street; some types of firearms should not be owned by the average person on the street. Of course, rules won't stop anyone from driving or owning firearms illegally, but the basic purpose of regulation is to ensure that the people are properly trained to use their vehicles or firearms.

My Philosophy on Gun Control

I define "gun control" as the regulation of the sale and ownership of firearms. Gun control is required for two reasons:

The primary difficulty with establishing a policy of gun control is defining the process to make it fair, accessible, inexpensive and efficient. Since such a policy must be administered by a state or federal level government, the latter two qualifiers are unlikely, and the highly political and often emotional nature of the debate makes the former two difficult to achieve.

Gun regulation legislation cannot control the presence of illegal guns on the street. This is a matter for the police at the various levels, and one I have no doubt they take very seriously, since it's their lives as often as not that are on the line. No matter what laws are enacted, they have an uphill battle, and unfortunately always will.

Some people view gun "control" as meaning "abolition". In a perfect world, this view would not exist because people wouldn't want to own guns for "self-protection" because they wouldn't need to. It is not about abolition, it is about regulation, nothing different than what we do with motor vehicles.

Regulating the People

Certain classes of people should never be allowed to (legally) own guns.
  1. A frightening number of people are, in various ways, irresponsible and/or idiots. I refer you to the News of the Weird site and America's Funniest Home Videos for many examples.
  2. Unfortunately, there are also a frightening number of people out there who fall under the general category of "sociopath". Murderers, robbers, rapists, pedophiles, assault (including domestic assault), you name it, these people do it, with little or no regard for the harm that they do to others.
  3. Some people have the misfortune to be afflicted by one or more mental illnesses, such as depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. For their safety as well as everyone else's, they should not be allowed to own firearms.

Those not falling under those categories, and who are of "legal age", fall into the category of Potential Gun Owners.

As with driving (and medicine, engineering, and most other occupations), specific training is required in order to be able to use a gun safely and responsibly. As with driving (but, I hope, not medicine, engineering and the other occupations), many choose to learn outside of "approved" educational facilities. Ultimately, however, in order to make the transition from Potential Gun Owner to Gun Owner, the individual must be able to prove to the authorities that s/he:

Persons wishing to become firearm owners must be in possession of a valid license, just as with motor vehicles. The same technology, and the same cost structure, should apply to gun license registries as to motor vehicle registries. It should not have to be a big deal.

As with motor vehicles, various levels of licensing can be created, ranging from "basic" small (pistols) and long (rifles, shotguns) gun ownership, through to transportation of firearms in a secure manner and "concealed-carry" permits.

Regulating the Firearms

Just as there are certain people who should not be legally allowed to own firearms, there are certain firarms that should not be allowed to be legally owned by people. These are weapons meant specifically for the military or para-military forces, primarily automatic (or those that can be easily made automatic) weapons, such as assault rifles, submachine guns, and machine guns, and portable heavy weapons like anti-tank guns and rocket launchers. There is absolutely no need for Joe or Jane Citizen to own one of these, especially since there is such a wide range of "less dangerous" firearms available to meet his / her needs.

Records of all firearm sales should be (and, for the most part, are) kept by stores that sell them, as well as the manufacturers that make them. As with cars, all transactions (both private and through stores) should also be recored in a database maintained by the government entity responsible for firearms regulation. Some people believe that firearms registries will be "used to take away" their guns. In my humble opinion, unless the gun is one that can be modified into a more dangerous form, the owner shouldn't have to worry about its being confiscated.

The same computer technology that is used by the government entities responsible for regulating automobiles can be used to register firearms, since the principle is exactly the same. It shouldn't cost any more than motor vehicle registration to set up and administer, at least in theory. (But you never can tell with governments...) A central database is necessary in order for police to be able to quickly track down the history of a firearm that comes to their attention. Otherwise, a great deal of time and effort of already overworked police forces will be wasted that could be spent on more important parts of an investigation.

Universality

The same set of rules should be in force throughout an entire nation, and not vary too much from region to region.

Conclusion

In theory, the regulation of firearms is no more complex than that of motor vehicles. The database technology that can be used for registration of owners and of firearms is no different than that used for cars. Most, if not all, of my proposals are already in force in most places in the world. Unfortunately, implementation of the proposals is not consistently applied throughout the geographically larger countries. Political wrangling makes things worse, with restrictions ranging from the annoying to the draconian being applied to the licensing processes.

This is the most serious part of my site. Now it's time to lighten up and see something funny! Return to my home page

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