You’ve all seen the NRA’s imagery of the declining and clueless actor, waving a gun, attempting to reprise his role as Moses the lawgiver. It’s memorable. It’s sad. It’s metaphoric.
I’ve been on the fence about gun control for a very long time. The short summary of my past views is that I’m in favor of a national referendum on gun control, and have always thought it would be a good thing to mandate gun storage in safes, firearms insurance, etc. As my views have evolved, I’ve realized that I cannot recommend and support a gun control regime that makes it easier for the wealthy and powerful to own guns – that’s actually a big piece of the problem.
In this posting I’m going to outline a proposal for how the US should deal with guns, then offer some of the reasoning justifying it. I recognize that it’s not going to happen, because the forces arrayed against the citizens of the US are going to force them to endure this “freedom” whether they want it or not. I had originally planned to try to sneak up on this topic with a series of socratic-style pieces, but given the climate of the day it seems best to just throw the dice, not expecting anything to come of it. The hole we’ve dug for ourselves and been pushed into is too deep for rationality to have a chance, anymore – what we’re dealing with, now, is the downstream effect of over 100 years of propaganda in which individual liberty, toxic masculinity, political divide and conquer, and class warfare are all neatly tied up in a great big snarl of barbed wire.
On With The Proposal
The key is “From my cold dead hands” as the NRA says.
We propose a referendum to disenherit gun ownership for future generations.
- All sales and transfers of guns cease. It is illegal to buy/sell a gun. It is illegal to give a gun away. It is illegal to give your kids a gun. It is illegal to inherit a gun.
- All sales and transfers of ammunition cease. It is illegal to buy/sell ammunition.
- Current gun owners keep their current guns.
- When a gun owner passes on, the family has two weeks to turn any guns in for destruction, or may call the state police to come collect them. Same with the ammunition.
- The state police or collection center issues a receipt for the fair value of the guns (from back when there was a gun market).
- The fair value of the guns is deductible from any inheritance taxes, or income taxes due by the heirs, distributed over a period of 10 years.
- Anyone wishing to turn in their guns prior to dying is welcome to do so, and may get the staged tax deduction from their own taxes.
- Anyone below the poverty line, who would not owe taxes anyway, gets a check from the treasury, distributed over a period of 10 years.
- All guns collected are serialized and audited, bore-printed, then are chopped up and dispersed to recyclers.
- There would be some provision for donating historically significant or collectible firearms to museums and curated collections prior to the owners’ death, or within the two week period after the owner’s death.
- Over time the gun owning population dies out and the country is disarmed.
- Yes, a constitutional amendment would be required, since there are no national referendums in the US Constitution. Tying the referendum to passage of something like the National Initiative for Democracy might work. I observe that the constitution is not a holy document – it’s ignored on a regular basis by the powers that be. Call it “asset forfeiture regarding potential gun crimes” or something. If there’s a will there’s a way.
- One of the things that concerns me greatly is “tax them out of existence” strategies, or “sin tax” strategies since those would make gun ownership a privilege of the wealthy. They are already too much a privilege of the wealthy; that is part of the problem.
- My proposal is the only method that is blind to color, religion, or class. Everyone gets disarmed eventually, by The Grim Reaper (“MORT”), personally.
- In my scheme there is no single day when police start going door to door seizing guns. This is a big advantage, since it doesn’t create a threat, or a great big spike in work-load. It simply happens naturally over time; the country gets increasingly disarmed and violent crime statistics ought to demonstrate that the measure is effective.
- There is no great big financial overhang associated with a gun buy-back; it happens gradually (and can probably be paid with out of interest on a government buy-back fund, like the lotteries do it)
- It is much easier to disempower / dispossess someone who doesn’t even exist yet. It’s hard to say “I want to leave my hunting rifle to my … uh, kid I haven’t thought of having yet.”
- One of the biggest problems in dealing with gun violence is telling who is a “bad guy” and who is a “good guy” – my proposal makes this simple: if you were born after a certain date, and you’re carrying a gun, you’re a “bad guy.” Eventually people would realize that if they saw someone with a gun who looked younger than 20, they were probably a bad guy. Then 30. Then 40. Etc.
- Basing the retirement of gun ownership on age also is very very easy to enforce. “Oh, you’re 75 and you have a gun? Can I see your drivers’ license?” For us older citizens it’d be nice to be carded at the upper end of the range as well as the lower.
- My scheme has a deferred financial impact – that’s always attractive to presidents and congresspeople who can pass legislation and say “it doesn’t cost anything” because, in this case, it really doesn’t. It actually recirculates money tied up in millions of guns back into the economy.
- Many gun owners (including myself!) feel that we’ve owned our guns responsibly and the vast majority of us are never likely to hurt anyone with them. So, they can continue to do that, unpunished: congratulations, you were a safe gun owner your entire life. But your kid doesn’t get the chance.
- As a society we are accustomed and comfortable to regulating childrens’ experience with dangerous things. We don’t let them drive until a certain age. We don’t let them vote until a certain age. We let them join the military and go kill people elsewhere in the world at a certain age. So now we’re just saying “there’s actually never ‘old enough’ you’re going to be in order to own a gun.”
- As a society we are accustomed and comfortable with bequeathing younger generations a great big “fuck you!” in the form of radioactive waste, habitat destruction, and global warming. Taking away the future generations’ guns proactively isn’t even a “fuck you” compared to the other “fuck you” we’ve already saddled them with. Besides, they’ll already be worrying about whether or not Mad Max is a prophecy; not having lots of guns around will help buffer the collapse of civilization if they can’t handle the mess the 20th century created for them.
- As a society we are comfortable with the government spending massive amounts of money on public relations campaigns (usually enlist youth into military service) – we are comfortable with propaganda campaigns. Some money would need to be spent to educate the younger generations that the old people couldn’t be trusted with all the guns and their generation had to act firmly and with resolve to protect themselves before the baby boomers fucked everything up in yet another new interesting way.
- By “disarmed” I mean that it’ll be illegal to own, operate, carry, clean, frob, tweak, or point a gun. Of course there will be loads of clever people who bury guns against that day – but simply criminalizing them will mean that: “when guns are banned, criminals with guns are really fucking obviously criminal to the police.”
In other words, I am advocating a “Slow Ban” – but a total ban just the same.
One possible variation is to take a constitutional literalist interpretation and say that flintlocks and wooden bows and swords are legal for carrying. As a fan of blade arts, I think it’d be excellent. But it might be simpler to just go with an outright ban.
Seriously, though –
Q: do you know how to do a mass shooting with a flintlock?
A: You start with Napoleon’s Grand Armee…
For people who still want desperately to play with guns, there’s another alternative. I was USAR not NG, but they seemed pretty well-regulated even back in the 1980s. Sign on the dotted line and you’ll not only get to learn to shoot a gun, you’ll learn to assemble it blindfolded, and you’ll learn what “war crimes” are and how to respectfully disobey an unlawful order, and you’ll get to board ahead of everyone else on certain jingoistic airlines.
So this leaves me with the question of what to do with my guns. I have a few. I collected them back when was in an acquisitive phase of my life. So, if I were to sell them, I have the problem that they could eventually fall into the hands of someone irresponsible and they could kill someone.*
I’m going to put my money where my mouth is and put a codicil in my will that upon my death my executor will arrange to have them torched apart with an oxyacetylene torch and turned into a sculpture. I’m sure some artist will be thrilled. I ran this idea by a friend of mine who said, “that’s going to make the ghost of Wayne LaPierre come screeching out of the grave in broad daylight!” Savor that image for a second.
From my cold, dead, hands.
Here’s another post [stderr], addressing the “but what if the government gets oppressive?!!?!” meme. I will also address the “but what about disarming the pooooliiiice!?” meme in its own posting. So please let’s not drag that into debate here. Thank you. Hint: logistics.
(* Guns kill, and so do people)