In the wake of the Orlando shooting, the inevitable cry for new gun laws has arisen. Can’t we keep guns out of the hands of crazies? Why does anyone need an AR-15? How do people like this keep getting guns?
In order to break the logjam, I want to add my support to a modest step that may be very effective. It’s been proven in 15 states to reduce gun deaths and is certainly constitutional. More importantly, it helps us to move past the infatuation with guns and focus on people.
I believe that a national law requiring a permit to own a gun, which displays both credibility and competency, is both passable and implementable. Call it a “Common Sense Gun Law” if you like.
The shooting in Orlando is a bad example all around. It’s hard to imagine that the shooter (not named here) would have been denied a gun under any laws. I do believe that Sec. Clinton is wrong in asserting that because he was once picked up by the FBI for questioning he should have been denied a gun – once he was cleared that seems like a terrible standard for anyone concerned with the constitution.
Despite these observations, there is little doubt that we are in a cycle where crazies with a beef against someone feel that picking up an AR-15, the weapon of choice for them now, to shoot up a vulnerable place is a ticket to media stardom. Anything we can do to lessen the number of these events will break the cycle and hopefully calm everyone down.
Other events took place with weapons that should not have been in the hands of the shooter. Isn’t a background check required? Yes, but such a check is not possible for an individual seller and the law is essentially unenforceable.
The only way it can be enforced is to required a “Permit to Purchase” a weapon, as 15 states currently do. It is usually nothing more than a piece of paper which shows that you passed a background check, but some states require a safety course and a few even require demonstrated mastery of a weapon on a firing range.
Essentially, it would be just like a driver’s license.
The rate of death and injury from guns is about 10.3 per 100,000 people in the US as a whole, which is to say nearly 40,000 per year, over 30% of them killed. That is a huge number by any measure. But in the 15 states with “Permit to Purchase” requirements, the rate is only 7.1 per 100,000. States without such laws run 12.2 gun deaths and injuries per 100,000. Applying this simple common sense law nationwide should reduce gun mayhem in many ways.
It has the potential to save 3,200 people from being killed per year by this calculation, and another 6,800 from being injured.
A good, tight law would issue a permit, ideally as a photo ID, to anyone who can pass a background check, pass a safety course, and show that they can hit a target. It’s a matter of everyday safety as much as keeping guns out of the hands of murderous people. This permit would be required for any sale of guns, everywhere, and have the potential to be revoked upon conviction of a felony.
Why not go much further? I think it is important to start with simple, enforceable laws this only make sense. I also do not feel that major restrictions on law abiding people are necessary – indeed, if a person is transgender I can understand why they might want to carry a weapon simply because of how they are constantly targeted.
All I ask is that they pass a check and show that they know how to use it. It would also be good to make sure that they would use it to harm another human – not everyone can do that, and such people (like myself) should not have guns.
I don’t expect that such a law would solve everything overnight. But it is a popular provision with as much as 74% support among gun owners in some polls, and it represents a decent minimum. It would keep guns out of the hands of some crazies and appears to save a lot of lives.
Why is this important? Saving as many lives each year as were lost on 9/11 is reason enough, whether these lives are lost in accidents, individual homicides, or mass shootings. But let’s look at the people who were able to use our airplanes against us and how resourceful they are in calling for a “DIY Jihad”. Amid all the security theater at airports, something has prevented major terrorist attacks in the last 15 years – and it’s not for a lack of trying, I am sure.
So I will leave the last word to Adam Gadahn of al Qaeda. If the deaths of thousands of people in homicides and accidents don’t lead you to believe that something should be done to keep guns out of the hands of people with no business having them, perhaps he will. The video is from 2011.