I have avoided doing anything on the issue of guns, purposefully. No matter how hard you try, it seems to always be incendiary and cause problems, but as I continually engage in conversations about the matter, it is easier to post a link rather than to type the same things over and over. It also allows for the time to choose words carefully and to have an informed decision that is based on something more than interview soundbites and headlines. On to the things that I think could work and even be passed in congress with some effort.
First, the background check. I do think that it should be expanded to all purchases of firearms. It is a simple thing that we can do that may help keep guns out of the hands of criminals, or at the very least make it more difficult for criminals to get firearms. Here is how I propose it work. The program will be federally funded paid for by a small fee added onto all gun purchases for the check and supplemented as needed by the government. The background checks themselves will be administered by the state as they see fit. The money for the system will be budgeted out on a year to year basis based on the previous years number of applicants in each state. I am no fan of government programs, but this seems to be the only way to institute the rule across the board. The background check would disqualify anyone with a conviction for violent crime, and anyone who has domestic violence charges they have been convicted of, misdemeanor or felonious. All background checks need be completed within a ten day period and after said period, any information obtained in the background check needs to be destroyed. In the event of the check showing active warrants for arrests, etc. then local authorities will be notified. This should be required for private purchases as well the cost of which is payed by the individuals involved in the purchase.
Second, I find it reasonable that there be a mandatory training and education period. This should be offered by any private entity, business or group that wants to run such programs so long as the training includes the following. Basic care and cleaning of a firearm. Basic gun safety, storage, and education about the laws of your state (castle doctrine, etc.) so that not only are you informed of how to care for the weapon, but also when it is appropriate and legal to use it. This training period should last no less than 8 hours, and include a final exam on the information provided which requires a minimum passing grade of 80% correct. As a matter of finishing the course, within 14 days of receiving your weapon, you need to go to an approved range and qualify…basically prove that you can hit what you are shooting at. A target signed by the range master would serve for this purpose. Once this is shown to your instructor, you are issued proof of finishing the course and can go on your merry way. Should the qualification aspect not be completed, the person should be considered in possession of an illegal firearm and subject to felony charges. Each year of gun ownership, you should be required to re-qualify and to take a two hour refresher course in current state and federal gun legislation. Not completing this should result in the owner being considered in possession of an illegal firearm and subject to felony charges. The basic training need only be completed once, but qualification should need be done with each firearm owned. The cost of both to be paid by the owner.
Third, reinstitute the assault weapons ban as passed in 1994, but eliminate the specific weapons defined as assault weapons. That is a purely cosmetic thing as they use the same or similar calibers and have the same function as other weapons. Possession of a conversion kit for a weapon should be (I think it might already be) illegal, and subject to felony charges. The manufacture and sale of these items should be illegal in the US.
Fourth, a 10 day waiting period on all firearms purchases. This allows for the background check and also for the so called cooling off period.
Fifth, reporting theft of a firearm should be mandatory within 24 hours of the theft being known. Failure to do so should result in a charge of obstructing justice.
This set of proposals should have a sunshine provision after 12 years, and after 10 years should be studied to determine if there has been any appreciable effect upon crime.
I think that these are reasonable restrictions of firearms that have the potential to lessen crime but also do not overburden or punish legal gun owners. They have a decent chance of actually passing as legislation as well should the powers that be actually get behind them or something similar. I know that there are other ideas out there and that some have called for more (which will probably not pass as legislation) or less (which does little to address the problem). Those are my thoughts on the matter currently. Nothing that we do is going to completely eliminate violence in general or gun violence specifically. The individual, which society is built on, must have his freedoms protected while at the same time the public safety, which the individual has a vested interest in, must also be maintained. When we examine laws, those two things must be held in tension. Now I shall await the inevitable backlash…