It's nice that we're finally talking about gun control. It's very sad that it took such a terrible tragedy to talk about it, but I'm glad the conversation is happening. I hear a lot about assault weapon and large magazine bans, and whilst I'm supportive of that, it won't solve the problem. The vast majority of firearm deaths occur with handguns. Only about 5% of people killed by guns are killed by guns which would be banned in any foreseeable AWB.
Furthermore, there seems to be no talk about high powered rifles. What gun nuts don't want you to know is many target and hunting rifles are chambered in the same round (.223/5.56mm) that Lanza's assault weapon was. Even more guns are chambered for more powerful rounds, like the .30-06 or (my personal "favorite") 7.62x54R. Even a .22, the smallest round manufactured on a large scale, can kill easily. In fact, some say the .22 kills more people than any other round out there.
Again, I like that we're talking about assault weapons, machine guns, and high capacity clips. But it only takes one bullet out of one gun to kill a person. Remember the beltway sniper back in 2002? The one who killed a dozen odd people? Even though he used a bushmaster assault rifle, he only fired one round at a time before moving. He could have used literally any rifle sold in the US for his attacks.
The only way we can truly be safe and prevent further gun violence is to ban civilian ownership of all guns. That means everything. No pistols, no revolvers, no semiautomatic or automatic rifles. No bolt action. No breaking actions or falling blocks. Nothing. This is the only thing that we can possibly do to keep our children safe from both mass murder and common street violence.
Unfortunately, right now we can't. The political will is there, but the institutions are not. Honestly, this is a good thing. If we passed a law tomorrow banning all firearms, we would have massive noncompliance. What we need to do is establish the regulatory and informational institutions first. This is how we do it:
The very first thing we need is national registry. We need to know where the guns are, and who has them. Canada has a national firearms registry. We need to copy their model. We need a law demanding all firearms be registered to a national database. We need to know who has them and where they are. We need to make this as easy as possible for gun owners. The federal government provides the money and technical expertise, and the State police carry it out. Like a funded mandate. Most firearms already have a serial number on them, so it would really be a matter of taking the information already on the ATF form 4473 and putting it in a national database. I think about 6 months should be enough time.
Along with this, make private sales illegal. When a firearm is transferred, make it law that the registration must be updated. Again, make it super easy to do. Perhaps over, the internet. Dealers can log in by their FFLs and update the registration. Additionally, new guns are to be registered by the manufacturer. The object here is to create a clear paper trail from factory to distributor to dealer to owner. We want to encourage as much voluntary compliance as possible.
Now we get down to it. The registration period has passed. Now we have criminals without registered guns running around. Probably kooky types that "lost" them on a boat or something. So remember those ATF form 4473s? Those record every firearm sale, going back twenty years. And those have to be surrendered to the ATF on demand. So, we get those logbooks, and cross reference the names and addresses with the new national registry. Since most NRA types own two or (many) more guns, we can get an idea of who properly registered their guns and who didn't. For example, if we have a guy who purchased 6 guns over the course of 10 years, but only registered two of them, that raises a red flag.
Now, maybe he sold them or they got lost or something. But it gives us a good target for investigation. A nice visit by the ATF or state police to find out if he really does still have those guns would be certainly warranted. It's certainly not perfect. People may have gotten guns from parents or family, and not registered them. Perfect is the enemy of pretty darn good, as they say. This exercise isn't so much to track down every gun ever sold; the main idea would be to profile and investigate people that may not have registered their guns. As an example, I'm not so concerned with the guy who bought that bolt action Mauser a decade ago and doesn't have anything registered to his name. It's a pretty good possibility that he sold it, gave it away, or got rid of it somehow. And even if he didn't, that guy is not who I'm concerned with. I'm concerned that other guy who bought a half dozen assault weapons, registered two hunting rifles, and belongs to the NRA/GOA. He's the guy who warrants a raid.
So registration is the first step. Now that the vast majority are registered, we can do what we will. One good first step would be to close the registry to new registrations. This would, in effect, prevent new guns from being made or imported. This would put the murder machine corporations out of business for good, and cut the money supply to the NRA/GOA. As money dries up, the political capital needed for new controls will be greatly reduced.
There are a few other things I would suggest. I would suggest an immediate, national ban on concealed carry. A ban on internet sales of guns and ammunition is a no brainer. Microstamping would also be a very good thing. Even if the only thing it does is drive up costs, it could still lead to crimes being solved. I'm willing to try every advantage we can get.
A national Firearms Owner Identification Card might be good, but I'm not sure if it's necessary if we have a national database. We should also insist on comprehensive insurance and mandatory gun safes, subject to random, spot checks by local and federal law enforcement.
We must make guns expensive and unpopular, just like cigarettes. A nationwide, antigun campaign paid for by a per gun yearly tax paid by owners, dealers, and manufacturers would work well in this regard. We should also segway into an anti-hunting campaign, like those in the UK. By making hunting expensive and unpopular, we can make the transition to a gun free society much less of a headache for us.
I know this seems harsh, but this is the only way we can be truly safe. I don't want my kids being shot at by a deranged NRA member. I'm sure you don't either. So lets stop looking for short term solutions and start looking long term. Registration is the first step.
Tell Pres. Obama and democrats in congress to demand mandatory, comprehensive gun registration. It's the only way we can ban guns with any effectiveness.