Like most people, I have been thinking about the balance of rights and responsibilities when it comes to owning a firearm in the United States. I don’t understand the resistance to what should be common sense around how accessible firearms have become in the United States. Whether or not you agree on bans for certain types of firearms or components (like bump stocks, high capacity magazines and the like), we can separate that discussion and focus here on accessibility.
My first issue is that gun ownership comes with responsibilities. This starts by acknowledging how you are capable of owning the gun; meaning that you are of sound mind, and can own and operate the gun legally. You also need to be able to reliably store, transport, carry, operate and maintain what you own. If you buy a gun, you should anticipate how you will use it, and educate yourself so that you are both informed and aware of its general operation, and be mindful of the consequences of its accessibility and use. You need to learn its use both by instruction and practice, and can certify to it.
My second issue is that accountability matters greatly, and that being accountable for a weapon you own is absolutely a condition of gun ownership. This means that you are accountable for its accessibility, for its transfer (whether a loan, sale or disposal) and any subsequent consequence of its placement whether under your direct control or not. This is all directly tied back to you, the gun owner. This means that, as an owner, you maintain appropriate safeguards to ensure that the gun is not generally accessible, that you directly control its use or supervise handling by someone other than yourself. It also means that you report thefts or misplacement. It also means that you recognize liability in transferring ownership to another party.
The consequence of irresponsible gun ownership is within your accountability. It’s my opinion that a breach of responsibility should have significant legal consequences that could include forfeiture, fines, and prosecution. If the burden of responsible ownership is too great, then consider why you would be okay with contributing to serious harm or death of a person as a result of your lack of responsibility.
What the 2nd Amendment Says
A well regulated Militia being necessary to the security of
a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms
shall not be infringed. – US Bill of Rights, Amendment II
Before we rant about our rights to keep and bear arms, let’s look at the first part of the statement above, specifically “A well regulated Militia being necessary…“. The second amendment specifically states regulation as a term of the rights granted. Essentially, if you want the right to something, you bear the cost of responsibility in exercising that right.
A Proposal for Responsible and Accounted Gun Ownership
I’m going to continue updating this list, but am publishing so that a conversation can at least be had. There are reasonable conditions for any gun sold, and these conditions can also be legislated:
Fee-based application with mandatory 48-hour wait period
- Transfer of ownership ONLY through a licensed firearms dealer, police agency or military (see below).
- For a private sale, the firearm must be physically verified, and serial checked against national database
- For a private sale, a government issued ID is required from buyer and from the seller
- For sale by a licensed firearms dealer, a government issued ID is required from buyer
- An application to purchase can be filled in online, however the person must present application in-person before the mandatory wait period begins
- Application can be used to purchase multiple firearms, but all firearms for purchase must be listed on the application
- A credit check is required to obtain address history
- Local and Federal background check is required (based on current address/address history). Prior felonies, restraining orders within 2 years, history of physical violence, family altercations, affiliation with hate groups, no-fly registry, etc disqualify
- HIPAA modification must allow access to mental health records (past 5 years reports of depression, suicidal thoughts, anger management, family counseling are flagged for review). – Courts, Insurance and Providers must report
- Under age of 25 requires 2 referrals (individual only) who are not family. Exemptions for individuals who are under 25 but have a firearm issued for military service, or for employment in emergency (police, fire or medical) services. Limited or no exceptions.
- No person can sponsor more than 2 referrals per year
Prior to sale: training required (16 hours) on nationally standardized syllabus with add’l state-specific content.
I’m adamant this training should NOT come from the NRA. Materials should be vetted and approved by a non-partisan group with no political affiliations or advocacy tied to itself, its members or its governing board.
- Firearm components and features
- Basic operation
- Review of applicable State and Federal law
- Review of Private Party restrictions (employee policies, storefront policies, privately owned establishments, etc)
- Gun Safety (storage, handling, loading and unloading, mis-fires, cleaning)
- Transportation and carry
- Range etiquette
- Minimum 2 hours/100 rounds in practice range
Prior to Sale: Competency-based certification on specific gun is required
- completed after mandatory training, prior to purchase
- multi-choice exam based on training syllabus
- must pass vision test
- skill based certification must use similar (same or higher) caliber and similar firearm group and similar firing mechanisms
- skill based certification verifies disassembly, re-assembly, loading, gun safety, range etiquette, firing accuracy and overall ability to properly handle firearm
3-year fee-based renewal of certification required
- automatic renewal with proof of range activity, certified training or active military service
- otherwise renewal requires presentation of qualifying gun in addition to vision test and skill-based re-certification
Gun sale must include:
- lockable case, or
- lockout system for firearm (cable, trigger guard, etc), or
- gun safe
- identification required; sale is tracked
Transfer of ownership ONLY through a licensed firearms dealer, police agency or military
- Registration of all guns required (guns without serials will be stamped or etched with a unique serial number, or permanently modified/tagged)
- National database
- 3 year initial amnesty period for registration. After amnesty period, firearms without registration; or firearms in possession of any person without immediate direct supervision by registered owner or a licensed agent is a violation resulting in forfeiture, tickets and fines
- buy-back programs must be offered within states and territories. In addition to buy-back, firearms can be offered for re-sale or auction through the buy-back program.
Related Sites and Articles:
- The FBI and CDC Datasets Agree: Who Has Guns—Not Which Guns—Linked to Murder Rates -Boston University
- Gun Violence Statistics – Giffords Law Center
- States With More Gun Owners Have More Murders In The Home, Women Most Common Victims – Newsweek, July 22 2019
- Joe Rogan Asks Bernie Sanders “Is There a Solution to Mass Shootings?” – YouTube
- Search Topic “Guns” at House.gov for a list of bills introduced at the federal level – US House of Representatives
- Enough is Enough – A Comprehensive Plan to Improve Gun Safety – US House Rep. Earl Blumenauer (OR)
- National Instant Criminal Background Check (NICS) – FBI.gov