The right to bear arms, as put forth in the second amendment, is a tricky thing. In 1789 when the second amendment was written, the capability and variety of the weapons available to civilians today would have been deemed as something akin to witchcraft. A “Brown Bess” musket could achieve a firing rate of three to four rounds per minute from a skilled user…the AR-15 of today can achieve 45 rounds per minute with a skilled user. Witchcraft! If the goal is to have weapons to defend oneself against a tyrannical government, well…I don’t think commercially available weapons are going to do anything to a M1A2 Abrams main battle tank or an F-35 Lightning stealth multirole combat aircraft. So, all of that silliness aside, and with the solemnity due to dealing with a problem that has been claiming the lives of children and innocents in greater numbers in recent days - how should we deal with America’s gun problem? If we take for granted that there is a right to bear arms, and that guns aren’t going away, we need to address how we make sure that only the “good guys” get guns. And by good guys, we’re not talking exclusively about heroes, military, and law enforcement (more on them later) - we’re talking about law abiding, stable individuals who will abide by best practices in firearms safety and use those firearms for hunting, sporting, and other forms of enrichment activities, as well as potentially for personal defense. The first thing here is pretty obvious - background checks. While some legislation is in place that requires background checks, there are massive loopholes in the system. While authorized retailers are required to do background checks, in most states the secondary sale of firearms is entirely unregulated - this means that a person is required to pass a background check to purchase a weapon from an authorized store, but if that person walks outside and takes $50 bucks from a guy for the gun he just bought, it’s a free for all. So…that needs to be fixed. To do so, there should be a requirement for individuals to register their guns at point of sale, and register any sale on the secondary market - kind of like how a car needs to go through a process to be sold again as a used car. The gun’s registration, should have a clear chain of custody, and any sale on the secondary market must also go through a background check. How do we keep sales from going unreported? Well, if you have to renew your firearms registration annually, then it’s a pretty easy thing to do - if someone doesn’t show back up with their gun after a year, they could be issued a late fee for overdue registration, and if they don’t turn up with the weapon within three months, then perhaps there’s a misdemeanor charge. Enforcement here is tough, but not undoable. But back to the loopholes on those background checks - while felons are prohibited from purchasing firearms, many criminal behaviors seem to not have been included - while the Lautenberg Amendment bans access to firearms for those convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence…provided that the victim and abuser are married, have a child together, or live together. This means boyfriends, relatives, etc convicted of domestic abuse aren’t prohibited from access to firearms. Considering that in a study of 156 mass shootings, 54% of shooters had a connection to domestic violence…this is a problem that needs to be fixed, and the loophole shouldn’t be hard to close. Also of note is that federal law does not require criminal abusers to surrender previously obtained firearms. This is…just not smart. So, let’s close those loopholes, and even take a look up North for guidance. In Canada, one has to have multiple letters of recommendation as well as a signed statement from one’s significant other saying they are comfortable with a purchaser having the firearm in order to be approved for a purchase. Having loved ones and significant others approval as a qualification seems like a sensible backstop, not only to prevent mass shootings and homicides, but also to help mitigate suicides - chances are a loved one won’t sign off on the purchase of a firearm if the intended purchaser is clearly in a place where they might harm themselves with said firearm. Such a requirement also makes it harder to impulse buy guns - and, if one has to talk to someone they care about before one buys a gun, it might help them down off whatever ledge they’ve gotten themselves onto. As we dive into this further, we should have requirements for firearms safety education as a prerequisite to any gun sale - if you need training to get a license to operate a vehicle (freedom of movement), you should need training to get a license to operate a deadly weapon. If people want to be “good guys with guns,” they should definitely understand the basics of things like proper handling of the equipment, proper storage protocols, and the like. The instructors of these courses should be trained to look out for warning signs when it comes to mental fitness - someone who is depressed, suicidal, aggressive, or reckless probably needs to work some things out before they can take on such a responsibility. And just as you want a puppy that gets adopted to find a good forever home, we hope that gun sales will result in guns finding their forever home - so we should make sure that any purchaser of a firearm can provide proof of having a safe case or locker to store weapons in. This could be done by showing a receipt for a gun locker or storage unit at the time of purchase, or purchasing one with the weapon itself. Now, none of these suggestions are here to take away your guns - let’s be clear on that. While you have a right to bear arms, we as a society have a right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and wherein the right to bear arms conflicts with that whole “life” bit, we the people believe that our government has the right to regulate and track weapons as it deems necessary for the protection of civil society. If you are a good guy or gal with a gun, you shouldn’t have a problem with a background check, firearms safety training, adhering to proper firearms storage protocols, and keeping guns out of the hands of domestic abusers. After all, you’re the good guys, right? And if you’re purchasing a weapon for a reason that isn’t self-defense, sport shooting, or hunting…then I don’t think a gun is going to solve your problems, friend.
top of page
bottom of page