I am going to start by saying that I am not against the possession of any sort of gun by an individual. That includes assault rifles and other guns that people have railed against. I live in the city but if I lived in the countryside I would probably like to own a rifle or two. In my years in the US Army I always shot expert and really enjoyed shooting and so I am not predisposed to the banning of guns.
The NRA and others are quick to point out that the overwhelming number of gun owners are law abiding citizens. I agree with that generality but it is incomplete. What I want them to also say is that they are responsible gun owners. A responsible gun owner knows his weapon well and is well versed in its use, its upkeep and its safety. A part of that safety includes securing so that children have no possible access to it and that even a burglar would have great difficulty in stealing one. I do not believe for a second that most gun owners are that observant.
The other thing the NRA loves to state is that we do not need more gun laws, we just need to enforce the ones we have. On its face that sounds perfectly reasonable and to some extent it is. But our existing laws in certain case fall far short of what is needed to keep the general public safe.
Recently, in Wisconsin I believe it was, a man bought a rifle and then turned it over to another man who could not have legally purchased a gun. Such transactions are of course illegal but expecting the police to prevent such actions is ridiculous. They cannot possibly do it. The other lacking law is what is referred to as the “gun show loophole.” That simply means that any person can make a non-commercial gun transaction at a gun show. Simply put, the seller has none of the obligations that a retail gun seller has. The seller is under no obligation to do a background check of the buyer, to require positive identification or to make any determination of the buyer being prohibited from buying a weapon. Only 18 states have enacted laws to at least curb such activities. The other 32 states and 4 territories have no such provision. Which means a person who is otherwise prohibited from purchasing a gun who lives in one of the 18 states that have laws covering private sales, need only go to a bordering state that has no such law and make his purchase.
The states with the highest rates of gun violence are also the states with the most unrestrictive gun laws, basically the entire south, except Kentucky. Alaska is also among the most violent. The next lower grouping of violent states are Indiana, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, Wyoming and Montana. To its credit, Texas has “only” a moderate gun violence rate, meaning it is about middle-of-the-pack. Least violent state are without exception those states with the toughest guns laws. This included almost the entire Northeast, except Pennsylvania, the entire west coast, along with Nebraska, Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, Ohio and Utah. (This data was gleaned from www.thinkprogress.org)
The NRA used to rant that if gun laws were to become more restrictive then only the criminals would have gun. That is some of the worst logic I have ever heard. Ironically, it was the NRA itself in the late 1930s which advocated for stronger and more probative gun laws. Maybe that was the logical reaction to the spate of gun killings by gangsters of the 1920s and 1930s. They were key in passing a particular legislation in the 1920s called the “Uniform Firearms Act.” Its president at the time, Karl Frederick said, “I have never believed in the general practice of carrying weapons… I think it should be sharply restricted and only under licenses.” I do believe in the “sharply restrictive” portion of his statement but the licensing portion bears much consideration.
It seems to me that the ability of criminals to secure guns is far too easy. This says to me that there are far too many “law abiding citizens,” as the NRA and their followers would have us believe, who are selling their weapon with impunity to whomever they want. These law abiding citizens in fact not the responsible gun owner the NRA would have us believe. But the existing laws are far too weak or non-existent to prevent such transfers.
What I do believe is that the overwhelming majority of gun owners would have little to no problem with certain law that would in no way restrict which or how many guns they owned but which would make 100% gun accountability in the United States the standard way of doing business.
The NRA uses fear to mislead the general public. It broadcasts that certain legislations will restrict the law abiding citizen from purchasing a gun. That, of course, is pure poppycock.
What I am suggesting is that any person purchasing a gun for the first time accept a background check which would include their name being run through the NCIC database. That is simply a database of all convicted felons. This would be done though their local police office, sheriff’s office or state police office. They in turn would be issued a license to purchase and possess weapons. This, at least in part, already happens. When they purchase a weapon they would have to present a photo ID. The gun dealer would then enter his name along with the gun’s serial number into a national database and present the purchaser with a title for the gun, exact same thing as happens with automotive sales and ownership. That information would be shunted directly to his local police department. If at some future point he decides to sell the gun he need only go with the purchaser to his police station where the transaction would be completed with the gun’s title officially transferred.
Such legislation should happen at a national level but at least at the state level. Written into such laws can be language certifying and guaranteeing the truly law abiding and responsible citizen his continued right to access whatever weapons he wishes to purchase from whatever source. It would, however, put an end to gun sales over the Internet and through the mail. But more importantly, it would greatly increase the ability of criminals to come into possession of weapons. A person who had had a weapon stolen from him need only turn over the title to his local police department and let them take it from there. When that gun is finally recovered, the criminal would automatically face a felony charge of gun theft and illegal ownership.
I do not think these are unreasonable suggestions and definitely need better definition. But I believe that it is necessary to bring about a safer America and a big reduction in the amount of crime which includes gun violence.