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Dec 18 2012

10 Sensible Gun Policy Changes

1. Acknowledge that, in a time of modern weapons, the Second Amendment makes no sense.

Until we are OK with individuals having tanks and nuclear weapons, we have to accept that the ability for the people to overthrow the government is not going to come from individual possession of guns.

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2. Take some lessons from how we treat driving and apply this in ALL states to ALL sales

A citizen who wants a gun and a concealed carry permit should go through exactly the same training and recertification as a cop would… it’s easier to get a gun as a citizen than as a cop.

  • Pass written test that includes safety instruction and horror stories
  • Pass practical test that includes safety test
  • Pass psychological test, screening for violence
  • Punish swiftly and harshly for having a loaded gun on you while being under the influence
  • Require gun insurance
  • Require yearly registration updates
  • Tax

3. Limit magazines to six bullets and don’t let them be detachable

Is there a single legitimate use of firearms that requires more than six rounds of continuous fire? Certainly not hunting. And not any sort of self-defense that’s realistically imaginable, unless you’ve recently antagonized a Mexican drug cartel

4. Code guns so that they can only be used by the person they are registered to

I saw it in Skyfall, it must be possible and Wikipedia confirms!  The technology is imperfect, but if there was a push, it could undoubtedly be effective very soon.  Adapt all guns, except those that are being kept as historical relics, to be adapted so that they can only be shot by the person with matching the fingerprints or biometrics of the person to whom it is registered.  No more easily stealing guns from your mother to mow down kindergarteners.

5. Limit gun purchases to one every thirty days

Ponder, for a second, the fact that I cannot walk into a C.V.S. today and purchase half-a-dozen packages of Sudafed, but I can walk into a gun dealership and purchase a .50 caliber rifle of the sort that U.S. snipers use in Afghanistan. In fact, I can buy six or ten—there is no limit imposed by law. Should the gun dealer think it fishy that I might want to acquire a weapon capable of downing a small aircraft (much less six of those weapons) he may report the purchase to the A.T.F. But in most states, he’s not required to.

6. Recognize that gun control is about reducing the chance of gun violence and it is impossible to eliminate it entirely

We are never going to eliminate gun deaths, there’s just no way to do that.  In the same way we cannot eliminate all car deaths, but we can make it safer and there are no good reasons not to.  When someone protests that an individual law isn’t going to completely end gun violence it needs to be recognized that this is a useless argument.

7. Recognize that most gun policy is (and should be) about how to prevent the routine daily deaths from gun violence, accidents, and suicides not just how to prevent massacres.

What happened last week was a horrific tragedy, but the number of gun deaths on a daily basis is just as much of a tragedy.  In 2010, 180 children under the age of 11 were killed by guns.  As tragic as 20 children being taken in one incident is, where’s the outrage for the other children?

Sandy Hook reminds us that we have about five times the murder rate of any other advanced country, and that most but not all of the difference is guns, and in particular concealable guns… But Sandy Hook is utterly atypical of our homicide problem.

8. Accept that people love shooting guns that are incredibly dangerous, and keep those guns many of us would like to ban at special gun ranges where they can be stored and taken out onto the range

Here’s an idea: If people really have a need to shoot Glocks and Sig Sauers at a firing range, how about the firing range own them and keep them, and enthusiasts drop in and rent the firearm of their choice for an hour or whatever? I know this violated the capitalist principle of ownership, and yes, it impinges on “freedom,” but it seems to me to slake the thirst in a way that maybe people could get accustomed to over time.

I think it’s important here that people could still own their guns, they just would have to store them in a safe place.  In the same way that Israel requires guns to be left behind by soldiers rather than taken home  – the implementation of that policy reduced soldier suicides dramatically.

9. Teach the actual statistics of gun crimes and gun control

I know this is a difficult and intractable problem of part of the public being resolutely uninformed and denying reality, but to have a real discussion about fixing the problem, people on both sides of the debate need to talk about the actual facts and what has and has not worked in the past.  There have been hundreds of example cases of gun control policies — instead of knee-jerk saying we need to ban guns or that gun control couldn’t possibly work, both sides need to look at the actual facts on the ground.  Let’s recognize that gun control more obviously affects suicide rates than homicide rates and recognized that reducing suicide rates is also a worthy goal, not a reason to ignore policy.

The NRA promotes myths about gun control that need to be countered with actual facts.

10. Let’s stop talking about “bans” and “control” and start talking about “regulation” and “safety”

Gun control is not gun elimination — it is about regulating the use of guns and who can have them.  In the same way the name of the “pro-life” movement has framed the abortion debate, the idea of “bans” and “controls” are language that is used by the NRA and other gun-enthusiasts to frighten people away from sensible ideas that are really gun “regulation” and gun “safety measures”.  Surely if we are OK with drugs being regulated, we can be OK with guns being regulated — and drugs are designed to save lives, not to destroy them!

11. Create ammunition policy as well. License, regulate, and track bullets.

27 comments

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  1. 1
    machintelligence

    Except for number 4 (gun coding to the owner) which is still experimental and almost impossible to retrofit to older all mechanical weapons, I agree with you. The magazine issue might result in the loss of semi-automatic pistols, but revolvers are perfectly adequate for self defense and are more goof proof and safer as well.
    Number 11 is also iffy, since there are those who hand load (like myself), but I doubt that those inclined to run amok are loading their own. Still, this is an excellent starting point.

  2. 2
    Val

    1. Don’t necessarily have a problem.

    2. Don’t necessarily have a problem.

    3. Disagree for two main reasons (plus the minor quibble that 6 rounds sounds completely arbitrary): #1, there are sooooo many guns with detachable magazines or non-detachable magazines that hold more than 6 rounds even with an outright ban and confiscation, you’re not going to come close to drying up the supply that’s in circulation; and, as with any sort of gun ban, the last people who will be affected are the criminals who already have them, and #2, many violent crimes involve multiple assailants, and it usually takes several shots to make an agressor stop; I see this as unnecessarily hobbling someone who is rightfully using a gun for defense.

    4: Almost stopped reading here because I was sad that you weren’t taking this seriously. Then I realized that you were being serious and got even more sad. So, I wouldn’t get to wear gloves when I shoot anymore? And if I’m trying to defend myself and can’t hold the gun correctly because I’m in a hurry or injured, tough luck?

    5: Don’t necessarily have a problem, but I don’t see the point. I’m not bothered in the least by waiting periods for extended background checks and “cooling off” periods, but what you seem to be suggesting here is that the hypothetical person buying the rifles has some sort of nefarious purpose. So, bad guys can’t be patient? How does making him wait an extra half a year do anything especially helpful?

    6: Agree.

    7: Agree.

    8: Have some problems with it, and I really don’t understand why Glocks and Sigs are specifically mentioned.

    9. Agree.

    10. Agree.

    11. The title says 10 changes, but there are 11 entries. Which one doesn’t count, the one that comes from a James Bond movie or the one delivered by a commedian?

  3. 3
    Raging Bee

    …many violent crimes involve multiple assailants, and it usually takes several shots to make an agressor stop; I see this as unnecessarily hobbling someone who is rightfully using a gun for defense.

    In how many cases is any kind of gun useful AT ALL against multiple assailants? Seriously, in what circumstances would multiple assailants attack you without provocation, but leave you room to draw a gun and shoot more than one of them?

    So, bad guys can’t be patient? How does making him wait an extra half a year do anything especially helpful?

    It would give a potential gun buyer time to rethink his/her idea of using the gun — and that could save MANY lives: lots of people think of using a gun purely as an impulsive emotional reaction, and give up the idea if forced to wait a certain amount of time.

    I once read an op-ed by a woman who wnted to buy a gun to kill her husband with. Her state had a two-week waiting period, and that was enough time for her to realize that killing her husband wasn’t a good idea. She never picked up the gun. I know the plural of “anecdote” is not “data,” but I also know that it’s very common for people to have intense emotional reactions to certain events, so it’s quite reasonable to conclude that mandatory waiting periods would serve to prevent some very dangerous emotional reactions from coming to fruition. (And if you really can’t wait, that’s probably because you know of a very specific imminent threat, which means you should be going to the cops.)

    Here’s option #12: Stop romanticizing guns! They’re not magic talismans, they’re not symbols of some greater principle or other, they don’t guarantee liberty, and they don’t automatically make danger go away, or make everyone do whatever you say. They are tools, nothing more, and the decision to acquire or use a gun should be purely strategic and tactical, based on facts, needs, circumstances and reason, not ideological.

  4. 4
    smrnda

    On multiple assailants – I’ve used guns and am pretty experienced in martial arts. Against a group of attackers at close range, I’d prefer some kind of melee weapon, like a metal rod. It’s not prone to the same mechanical problems that guns are.

    On the idea that guns can stop a government that wants to oppress you, this assumes the problem is always with governments oppressing freedom loving citizens. There are plenty of private citizens who want to own guns to oppress other citizens (Zimmerman and other self-proclaimed vigilantes) and private citizens stock-piling weapons for some sort of apocalyptic battle where anybody who doesn’t support theocracy or total government non-intervention in business will be seen as an enemy of liberty who must be stopped, with violence if need be.

  5. 5
    Val

    “In how many cases is any kind of gun useful AT ALL against multiple assailants.”
    Many. Not all. Never all. But many. 40% of attacks on police involve multiple assailants, and while it doesn’t always work out well for the cop (all too many die in the line of duty), many are still able to defend themselves.
    And before you say “but they’re trained to,” I will add that I think that being able carry a concealed weapon as a civilian should require training similar to what officers recieve.

    “Seriously, in what circumstances would multiple assailants attack you without provocation, but leave you room to draw a gun and shoot more than one of them?”
    Every situation is different, but there will be some circumstances where it will work, particualarly if you are paying attention to your surroundings and what other people are doing. Learning how to avoid trouble and recognize it when you can’t avoid it is something everyone should take the time to do, but that goes double for anyone who is so concerned with their safety that they are considering carrying.

    “Here’s option #12: Stop romanticizing guns! They’re not magic talismans, they’re not symbols of some greater principle or other, they don’t guarantee liberty, and they don’t automatically make danger go away, or make everyone do whatever you say. They are tools, nothing more, and the decision to acquire or use a gun should be purely strategic and tactical, based on facts, needs, circumstances and reason, not ideological.”

    I agree 100%, and if you think that I was holding up guns as some sort of foolproof, will-work-in-any-situation solution, you misunderstood. There are too many variables involved when it comes to self-defense to say that *anything* is guaranteed to work. That’s not what I’m about, and that’s not where my opinion on guns comes from. There are some situations where a gun won’t help you. There are some situations where doing something like giving up your wallet is gives you a better chance at survival than reaching for a gun. But then there are some situations where a gun would help; I’m a fan of letting properly prepared people have that option available.

  6. 6
    Val

    “On multiple assailants – I’ve used guns and am pretty experienced in martial arts. Against a group of attackers at close range, I’d prefer some kind of melee weapon, like a metal rod. It’s not prone to the same mechanical problems that guns are. ”
    I’m the opposite. I wouldn’t want to go melee under any circumstances. I’m not built for it and have some health issues that wouldn’t work to my advantage in that situation. At pretty much any point, I think my chances would be better even gun vs. gun then they would be hand to hand or melee weapon vs. melee weapon.
    Of course, ideally, I’d avoid fighting all together. So far so good.

  7. 7
    ACursoryMoment

    Rebecca Watson once had sex with a drunk man. Therefore she is a rapist.

    http://skepchick.org/2012/12/twitter-users-sad-to-hear-they-may-be-rapists/

    When are people in the community going to call out rapists like Rebecca Watson?

  8. 8
    Phillip Brown

    Simply tie gun ownership with registration and participation in a state-run militia, like it says in the second amendment.

  9. 9
    freemage

    First off, thanks for this post. I seriously had been despairing of getting a solid proposal out of anyone, and the vast majority of these are awesome.

    1: Agreed, but the impact of using this argument is limited. We’re stuck with the 2nd Amendment whether it’s practical or not (in fact, some of the more extreme gun-nuts would use your very point to argue that tanks and artillery should be available to civilians).

    2: I’d like the tax, generally, to be limited to the cost of administering the other protocols in this item, at least at first, to see the overall impact. Also, I’m wary of the psych screening, even though I acknowledge the sensibility of it–I’m just not sure I believe the government is capable of performing this function on a large-scale basis. Everything else, however, should be done ASAP.

    3: I agree with the principle of magazine limits, but do think the 6-bullet limit is a bit much. Still, I’d probably be fine with a 10-bullet limit. I do think sport shooting should allow for an option for more, but that could be limited to licensed ranges and the like.

    4: Put DARPA on getting this done, pronto. If an existing weapon can’t be adapted, that’s a different issue, but certainly new production could be limited to this standard.

    5: I might push for a higher limit, but again, the concept of a cap is not anathema to me. I’d suggest also allowing for licenses for greater purchases for dealers (for whom a higher standard of registration would be required).

    6 & 7 are mainly attitude adjustments–not policy decisions.

    8: I like this for the bigger and more serious weapons, yes. It would also be a decent way to compromise on the magazine issue, as I noted above.

    9: This is a tactical decision, but it’s one I’d definitely encourage.

    10: Yup. But that does cut both ways–every time I see calls for bans on weapons (and a good number of people make that appeal), I cringe, because I know it just feeds the fire.

    11: Heh. I’d eliminate the bullet tax on ammunition used at a firing range (again, I think this is key to mollifying sport shooters, and I’m sure the range owners would support having an exclusive on tax-free sales, so you could get one group to support out of self-interest). I’m not sure if bullets are actually ‘trackable’ in the same fashion guns are (much of the bullet is destroyed on impact, so markings are trickier).

    Once again, most of these are things I’d either stamp “YES” on right away, or use as starting-points for serious discussion. Thank you for that.

  10. 10
    Shplane, Spess Alium

    Yep.

    Though maybe I’d err a little more towards “gun ban” than you. 99.9% of people simply shouldn’t have guns. The ability to kill someone at range is a lot of power, and we should always limit the power people have over one another.

  11. 11
    Martha

    Not only it this post a great starting point for discussion, but this is the only time I’ve ever seen gun enthusiasts and gun-control advocates have a reasonable conversation on this topic on the internet. I’m all for using the terms “regulation” and “safety” instead of control. As someone pithily commented earlier, “being in favor of gun regulation makes me no more anti-gun than being in favor of driver’s licenses makes me anti-car.”

  12. 12
    60's Child

    People need to understand why our fore father gave us the right to bear arms and the states to establish militias. They were concerned about a strong central government taking away our inalienable rights. Read the US Declaration of Independence. To think the US government will always protect those rights, all you need to look at is human nature and history and see that it isn’t true that they will protect those rights. Therefore our fore fathers gave us the means to take them back. Violence against the innocent has nothing to do with the right to bear arms. Historically individual have use physical and psychological violence to control and kill their fellow human beings. To think that mass killing in any county by an individual will be eliminated but controlling weapon is naive. In addition, if a person sees a psychological problem with a family member and reports it, the authorities and doctors can do nothing until that individual hurts someone or them self or they have to ask for help independently. I saw this 35 years ago with an uncle and it gotten worse overtime. Luckily his ulitimate violence did not result in a death. Logic does not follow that all individuals will do the right thing if we just have understanding that their differences and idiosyncrasies are OK.

  13. 13
    Shplane, Spess Alium

    It’s hilarious that you think a few rifles and handguns would help the American populace stand up to the American military.

    It’s annoying that you somehow think that violence without guns is as likely to be fatal as violence with guns. Fortunately, there are directly comparable incidents. This incident was a similar attack, but with a knife rather than a gun. And guess how many people died? None whatsoever. If this man had used a gun, it is likely that all of the victims would be dead.

    And yes, it is an absolutely wonderful idea to give “family members” the ability to force people that happen to share their genes into the psychiatric system. There is totally no way that would ever be abused, at all.

  14. 14
    BecomingJulie

    I’d go further and say create a network of “Gun-Free Zones”.

    Anybody caught carrying a firearm, loaded or not, in a designated Gun-Free Zone would receive an automatic prison sentence. Just like in Britain, where it works (not only can you be born, live your life and die and never come within shooting distance of a gun, but many people are).

    I expect GFZs probably would just be schools and hospitals initially. Eventually, maybe whole towns — even whole states? — could declare themselves gun-free. We can only live in hope.

  15. 15
    RH

    I strongly support gun safety and regulation. However I think you are wrong most of your points.
    1. A deeper understanding of the 2nd amendment is desirable, but it won’t be repealed, so arguing over it isn’t very useful.
    2. Some of these are GREAT. Others are reaching.
    3. I don’t shoot but even I think 6 bullets is unreasonable. Not making magazines removable is just silly. That is exactly the kind of argument that prevents us from getting the basic training you want in #2.
    4. Technology fails, malfunctions. As you pointed out it can’t be retrofitted. If you allow for guns for self defense you will need guns that are reliable.
    5. Limiting frequency of gun purchases isn’t a horrible idea. But I would like to know exactly what problem it is supposed to solve .Also I don’t think 1/30 is the right number as I think it reasonable to allow someone to pick up a couple of guns at a show.

    6. EXCELLENT!!
    7. EXCELLENT!!

    8. I don’t think this is reasonable, and many people want to ban all guns. Which get stored at special ranges? If you live on a farm does your farm count? This just isn’t well thought out.

    9. YES! Fact based discussions rock.

    10. Re-framing the discussion is a great idea. Good luck doing it if you want to ban removable magazines.

    11. Funny… but I though this was supposed to be realistic.

  16. 16
    Mary Lou

    If it is so easy for the largest, most modern military to defeat a rag tag group with rifles and handguns how do you explain Iraq and Afganistan? They are still occasionally using bolt action rifles from 70 plus years ago.

  17. 17
    Shplane, Spess Alium

    Do you think that they’re actually fighting anyone off or achieving any of their goals? Because they’re not. They’re killing a few guys and then hiding well enough to not die immediately themselves. Middle East guerrilla fighters are doing absolutely nothing to prevent the US from running roughshod over their countries. People here likely wouldn’t even be able to do as well as they have. Most wouldn’t know the tiniest thing about hiding in a rathole. Few would even want to, if that prevented them from having TV and internet access.

  18. 18
    interior design

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    seo and sem services

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  20. 20
    Just someone

    Not that I disgree with you completely (some point are quite valid) but for someone who states that: “Recognize that most gun policy is (and should be) about how to prevent the routine daily deaths from gun violence, accidents, and suicides not just how to prevent massacres.” awfully much of the text is ungrounded, unresearched speculation. Why limit magazines to six for example? What does that accomplish? Why limit the number of guns; how does that stop routine daily deaths? Do people often shoot themselves with two guns or more than six bullets? Those are the types of arguments that put a bigger distance between those for and against more regulation — and more regulation is definitely needed.

  21. 21
    Just someone

    By the way, I think the Dutch system is pretty decent, and you could take inspiration from it: http://www.rnw.nl/english/article/gun-laws-netherlands But probably too strict for the US… (and STILL people manage to cause massacres)

  22. 22
    Eris Caffee

    I won’t comment on the other points since most of them make sense, but the first one is really a poor argument and I hate it when people trot it out and think they’ve made some devastating point. Do you really think that small arms are useless against a modern army? Because if so, then you need to read the news more often. That “Don’t Worry” graphic very succiently illustrates the situation we had in the Iraq war, where the US military had tanks, and planes, and missles, and carriers, etc, and yet in the end they still lost the war to a disorganized insurgency armed only with pistols, rifles, and improvised explosives. The insurgency still operates throughout Iraq and is slowly gaining control, while the mighty US military has packed up and left. (Hey, boys and girls! What do you call it when an army leaves and lets it’s enemy take control? Defeat!) Furthermore, the US is currently losing in Afghanistan under the same circumstances.

    How does this happen? Here’s a common example. The guy with the rifle doesn’t bother attacking a tank at all. He just plants a bomb on the side of the road and goes home. Later, the tank drives by and gets one of it’s treads blown off. Now the tank is immobile until a repair crew can get to it, during which time the work crew would be vulnerable to (can you guess?) rifle fire.

    People with small arms are very definitely capable of defeating a modern army, have done so, are continuing to do so, and will doubtless do so again in the future, because in the end an army must assert control in order to win, while an insurgency only needs to create chaos, which is a much easier task.

  23. 23
    sugarfrosted

    There is a mobile version, but it kind of randomly shows up. I sometimes get the mobile on my computer and often get the computer version on my phone.

  24. 24
    freemage

    Just Someone:

    Magazine limits aren’t meant to eliminate spree-shootings; they are meant to reduce the damage that spree-shooters can accomplish. Forcing the shooter to reload or change weapons more frequently gives victims more time to escape, and establishes windows for effective counter-attacks. Mitigation is still a useful and viable strategy.

    Ashley was including a variety of solid proposals here, each of which can be judged on its own merits. Since this particular effort is being brought to the fore by the Sandy Hook shooting, it makes sense to bring up those proposals that actually might have changed the outcome of that event.

  25. 25
    Buy Sell Signal

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  26. 26
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    “Supply lines” would be a good place to start.

  27. 27
    Non-Brainwashed Conservative

    This is the dumbest, most ignorant and naive GARBAGE I’ve ever heard! Do you really think Obama want to control guns for “safety” reasons? Well the answer is ABSOLUTELY NOT! Obama has brainwashed the crap out you ignorant, naive and idiotic liberals! Obama has told you that he plans to ban guns because of safety reasons, and to some extent he’s right. He wants to ban guns to protect him and the idiotic members of the military when Obama decides to become king of america and citizens disagree. You sound so idiotic when you say that we won’t win the gun ban war. Saying that the military will overpower us. Well, let me tell you something. Every solider, airmen, marine, sailor or guardsman say this when he or she enters the US Military:

    The Oath of Enlistment (for enlisted):

    “I, _____, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.”

    So the military will not be helping Obama they will be doing there job, defending this country. And we the people are the country, NOT the government or Obama! So check your sources before posting something so naive and ignorant!

  1. 28
    What's on your copy/paste? - Page 2

    [...] [...]

  2. 29
    Mental illness and gun control laws.

    [...] are too lax.  We need some new ones, and that’s what I want to talk about.  (Ashley Miller has some good suggestions [...]

  3. 30
    Guns and Driving: A Case of the Weak Analogy | The Crisan Chronicles

    [...] perhaps, Ashley Miller’s version (see #2 on her [...]

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