Thirty-two people die every day due to firearms. That’s equal to three 9/11 events every year. The tragedy of the past week has brought the discussion on this to the forefront. In the past, when tragedies happen, the gun lobby steps out, trots out some celebrity to state that, in the wake of such misfortune, it is not time to discuss gun regulations. But this time, they’ve run for cover and have lost allies in congress. The sheer scope of the tragedy has given them pause and it’s time for a real examination of gun regulations and for us to come up with some common sense solutions.
There are three very simple steps that could be taken in the new congress which can go a long way to addressing the issue, all of which have strong support among gun owners.
- Restore the Assault Weapons Ban – The Assault Weapons Ban was a regulation on gun manufacturers, not owners, which prevented the manufacture for consumer use a category of weapons classified as “Assault Weapons” in US Code. It was a sensible way to address the issue of weapons not designed for recreational use. Its prohibition on weapons able to mount a grenade launcher is simple, common sense.
- Banning High-capacity magazines – One of the reasons why the shooters in Colorado and Arizona were able to rack up the large body counts in such a short amount of time. With the Aurora shooter having 100 rounds of ammunition in a single clip, he was able to kill or injure 71 people in the 90 seconds it took for police officers to arrive on scene. A ban on the manufacture of these for civilian use would go a long way to addressing the issue. As gun manufacturer Ruger advertises, “When You Only Have One Shot, Make it Count.” A real hunter only needs one shot, these large capacity magazines are for people compensating for something.
- Sniper Rifle Regulation – This might seem like a no brainer. Right now, any person can walk into a store and buy a .50 caliber sniper rifle. The .50 caliber bullet, developed for the Browning Automatic Rifle for anti-aircraft and anti-tank use, has no civilian use. In fact, the .50 caliber bullet is 0.51 inches across, and is technically larger than the maximum size allowed by law. However, a loophole allows for its use, as the bullet is squeezed by the barrel to fit just under the maximum size allowed by law for a cartridge round. The regulation would simply close this loophole, and uphold the National Firearms Act of 1934.
- Cartridge Regulation and Taxation – Bullet cartridges can have varying amount of propellant, and different kinds of propellant. A simple regulation would be for bullet manufacturers to not use the highest performing propellant in the largest cartridges, and to produce cartridges with less propellant in the cartridge. Rather than a direct ban, a more direct method would be with a tax on the propellant used, so should a bullet cartridge hold more propellant, or a higher-end propellant, it would be taxed at a higher rate than one without. This cost would be passed down to the customer, and would, through market forces, reduce the number of high-powered bullets on the market without an outright ban. If the amount of explosive going into a guns magazine would, if packed into a pair of shoes, be considered a hazard to fly, it should not be allowed in a firearm.
- Background Checks – Republicans are fighting for harsh ID laws for voting, but want to eliminate even courtesy checks for firearms. This is ridiculous. A simple background check database, as already used for handguns under the Brady Bill, would go far in preventing high-powered weaponry from falling into the hands of criminals. While criminals may not follow laws, we as a society do not need to give them unfettered, unlimited access to the tools by which they can perform these crimes. We do not allow drunk drivers to retain their drivers licenses, we do not allow pedophiles to run daycare centers, but we allow the criminally insane to stockpile an arsenal in their basement.
While some may argue for a complete firearm prohibition, there is no need for such a widespread measure. A few simple, responsible steps would address the underlying problems far better than an immediate reactionary sweeping ban on something which, for good or ill, has been a symbol of pride for citizens of the United States for many centuries. In the 1800’s it was written that the Americas were a symbol for responsibility of citizenry to own guns. The way we are handling them now puts us to shame. If we do not take these steps now, then the pressure will continue to mount alongside the body count, which will result in an eventual, sweeping, and absolute ban. If you want to retain the right to bear arms as a Constitutional right in the United States, these are the measures you must endorse. Otherwise, you will live knowing that you are one shooting away from losing that right forever.
Whenever a gun advocate calls for de-regulating firearms, realize that they are in fact advocating for the complete elimination of firearm ownership in the United States, because that is what the end result of their efforts will be -eventually, things will be so bad, firearms will have to be banned entirely.” Their fighting against common sense gun regulations is tempting fate, and history demonstrates how such efforts result in unintended consequences and often times results in the absolute loss of everything fought for. In the fight against gun regulations, groups such as the Koch Brothers, the National Rifle Association and the American Legislative Exchange Council are instead fighting for the complete, absolute, and total elimination of gun ownership rights.