Right… and Responsibility

Now that the U.S. Senate has killed pretty much any attempt to place any meaningful controls on the use and sale of firearms in the United States, it’s time for a more objective look at the situation.  First off, there is no practical way guns are going to vanish in the United States, despite all the NRA and right-wing paranoia and concern about “big government” taking away guns.  It won’t happen.  Period.  Over 40 million U.S. households have firearms, over 320 million of them. Put in perspective, according to a 2007 United Nations study, fifty percent – half – of all the world’s guns were then held by U.S. residents, and since then U.S. gun sales have boomed.

Hard as those facts may be for some to swallow, U.S. guns are not going away and most likely never will.  Nor will measures such as restricting sales of certain types of weapons and ammunition, as commenters to this blog have noted repeatedly, be terribly effective.  At the same time, gun violence and accidental deaths and suicides caused by guns are epidemic. In 2010, guns took the lives of 31,076 Americans in homicides, suicides and unintentional shootings. 73,505 Americans were treated in hospital emergency departments for non-fatal gunshot wounds in 2010. Yet, as others have pointed out, the U.S. does not have anywhere close to the highest homicide rate in the world or even the highest number of total gun fatalities, BUT we have an astoundingly high rate compared to any other industrial nation in the world, so much so that’s there’s virtually no comparison.

So… what can we realistically do? Besides nothing, which seems to be the position of the NRA?

 As I’ve been considering the issue of guns in our the great American representative democracy, it occurred to me that there’s one aspect of the whole Second Amendment mess that has been totally ignored – and that’s the issue of responsibility.  Oh, everyone pays lip service to “responsible gun owners,” but the actual issue of responsibility in practice has been totally overlooked.  My suggestion is that instead of futilely trying to ban firearms, we give some firm legal support to all those “responsible gun owners,”  and by doing so provide at least some attempt to restore the “rights” lost by all the firearms victims.

 Let’s look at it this way.  If you own a car and drive, you have to be tested and licensed, and if you’re caught driving without a license, you face legal sanctions. If your vehicle causes damages to others, even if you’re not the driver, you have a financial responsibility.  Now… let’s do a comparison.  Guns result in 31,000 deaths and over 70,000 injuries in the U.S. annually.  Vehicle accidents kill 33,000 people and injure close to 100,000.  We regulate automobiles and who can drive them and under what conditions.  We require insurance, apply criminal sanctions to grossly unsafe vehicle use, and insist on wide-spread driver education and training.  The result of all this is that since 1972 automobile deaths have dropped 41%.  Why not apply the same approach to firearms?

Do we want people who can’t see being able to own and shoot a firearm?  We don’t let them drive. Why should we let them have a gun [And please don’t tell me that’s unconstitutional.  The Supreme Court declares what’s constitutional and what’s not, and it’s said that reasonable restrictions on the right to bear arms are constitutional.]  Why not require a firearms license?  And like a driver’s license, it could have categories.  If you want to drive a semi-trailer, you need more training and more insurance. If you want to have an arsenal of high-powered weapons, perhaps you need to be certified in handling them.  And the license, like a driver’s license, should require renewal.

 
A few other legal changes would also be helpful, such as licensing of weapons, just like cars – and forget all the screams about big government. Big government already knows all that about you anyway… and so does every major corporation, and I don’t hear any screams about invasion of privacy there. Besides, a nation that endorses social media such as Facebook has no right to claim privacy, anyway.

Perhaps we should also require firearms insurance, based on the number and class of weapons one owns, and a percentage of that premium could go to the various law enforcement agencies to give them the officers and equipment to go after real lawbreakers.  Perhaps we should impose an ammunition sales tax, like the gasoline tax that funds highway programs, in order to fund programs to support various aspects of firearms safety. There also ought to be a provision that if an owner doesn’t report the loss, sale, or theft of a firearm, and that weapon is subsequently used in a crime, the owner can be charged as an accessory after the fact.  None of these provisions should really trouble responsible gun owners.  I mean, after all, don’t they just require you to act the way you claim you should?  And make certain that anyone injured by your firearms, or their family, can be compensated, with, of course, an uninsured firearms operator provision as well.

And besides, it’s the American way – use a combination of required education, insurance, and financial responsibility.  More bureaucracy?  Of course, but it’s more than clear that simple solutions that have worked elsewhere in the world – like restricting firearms – haven’t worked here and won’t. So… we should do it our way, rather than doing nothing.

32 thoughts on “Right… and Responsibility”

  1. Reader says:

    I think that the big hurdle in implementing a plan such as you detail, is that gun ownership is defined as a right, whereas driving is clearly defined as a privilege. Once you start whittling the right into a privilege, it becomes far easier to take it away.

  2. C Keith says:

    The tax part is all ready in place what they spend the money on is the question? From the ATF web sight.
    “First imposed on February 25, 1919, Section 4181 of the Internal Revenue Code imposes an excise tax on imported firearms and ammunition when the importer sells or uses the firearms or ammunition (FAET). A tax if 10 percent of the sales price is imposed on pistols and revolvers, and a tax of 11 percent of the sales price is imposed on other portable weapons (e.g., rifles and shotguns) and ammunition. The excise tax is not imposed again unless the firearms and ammunition are further manufactured. At one time, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) was responsible for collecting FAET. However, since January 2003, this responsibility rests with the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), U.S. Dept. of Treasury.”

  3. AndrewV says:

    The problem with the proposed regulation is that it is an attempt to limit the ability of law abiding citizens to own firearms. The argument is basically, “We’ll just tax and regulate guns until a small minority can own them.”

    This will not stop the criminals. But it will make normal citizens easier prey.

    1. A LARGE minority already owns them. You could make the same argument for cars — and they’re far more expensive. Cars are hugely expensive compared to guns, and we have half a billion vehicles on the road. Your argument doesn’t hold water, either legally or financially. It’s just another attempt to escape responsibility.

  4. Tom Harvey says:

    Good insurance for guns has to be designed so that it would cover all the likely situations. The usual liability model is not adequate because shootings are usually intentional and often not by a legal owner of the gun who could be made to buy insurance. Possible systems are described on http://guninsuranceblog.com A good one would function like no-fault car insurance does for pedestrians (who don’t have their own insurance) in NY State. It could be mandated for manufacturers with a requirement that the insurer can’t relinquish responsibility for a particular gun unless another insurer (probably contracted by a buyer) takes it up and so on. This would make it apply to stolen or diverted guns and allow a guarantee that an insurer will be available without the government having to register guns or track gun owners.

  5. AndrewV says:

    No, Mr. Modesitt, your argument is the one that is not valid. When you boil it down, your arguments consist of, “Let’s take guns away from responsible people and hope for the best.” It does nothing to address criminals with guns. Since these people are the ones committing crimes, they need to be the focus of any legislation. How do your proposed changes address gang violence? Do you expect street gangs to say, “Well shucks, I need a license and insurance for this gun I own illegally. I suppose I’ll have to get rid of the gun and join a monastery” ?

    You insinuate that legal gun owners are inherently irresponsible without any facts to back that up. In fact, your suggestions would cause more crime– the exact opposite of your intentions. Take a look at crime statistics in London before and after their firearm restrictions for a real world example. Another example is modern day Chicago, which is such a good example of negative consequences from gun restrictions that it is almost a cliché.

    I live in a state (Rhode Island) where we have mandatory auto insurance. This expense has priced a large percentage of poor individuals who chose to obey the law out of driving. Many others chose to ignore the law and drive without insurance. Their choice is drive to work or lose their job. That is an unintended consequence of well meaning legislation.

    Is auto insurance a good idea? Sure. But when you impose it upon an entire population you get unintended consequences. If someone took $150 a month out of your checking account ($1800/yr after tax) you’d feel it. Look at Rhode Island’s economy. The poor shape of it is entirely due to heavy regulations and taxes, much like what you are suggesting we use.

    Do I feel for the people who are victims of gun violence? Sure. Do I think we should arm every citizen? No. Honestly, I’m moderate on this issue. I am more than willing to see changes made that actually accomplish something. You want to see fewer people get hurt, killed, or preyed upon, and I find that very noble. If you could prove that your proposed changes will do good without doing harm, I’d back you 100%. Your suggestions cause harm with the intention of causing good, and it would be irresponsible for the country to implement them. We have to stop taxing and regulating every problem. If that worked, my home state would be a paradise.

  6. One, I’m not arguing for taking guns away from responsible people. I’m saying responsible people who own guns need to be actually responsible. Theoretically, at least, Adam Lanza’s mother was a responsible individual — but not responsible enough.

    Second,you’re suggesting firearms insurance would be as expensive as car insurance. Gee-whiz… if it turns out that way, then it proves the need for it to compensate all the victims of gun violence, intended or not.

    Third, regulations and laws get enacted and implemented exactly because people don’t do the “right” thing, but, more to the point, requiring people to be fiscally and physical responsible does work — as the statistics with automobiles, and quite a few other things, prove.

    Will my suggestions cost people money? Of course they will. Responsibility, fiscal or otherwise, doesn’t come cheap… and the implication behind your complaints is that it should. The very fact that you’re upset suggests that what I propose just might work.

    Finally… the current situation isn’t working, and taking away guns won’t work. So… exactly what do you propose that will WORK better than what I’ve suggested?

    1. Therman says:

      Mr. Modessit,

      I tried to point out the falacy of your argument in your last post but either you didn’t understand my point or you are purposefully refusing to acknowledge it in order to support your own biases. You are talking about licensing and registering legal ownership of firearms without, as others have already pointed out, addressing the factors that are causing the problem. Again, you say that gun deaths and injuries are in the same range as vehicular accidents and that since we license one we are justified in licensing the other. What you are refusing to acknowledge is that the comparison isn’t valid. The vast majority of deaths and injuries in vehicular incidents are accidental/negligence. This provides an excellent opportunity for education/licensing to have a positive effect. The vast majority of deaths and injuries in gun related incidents are purposeful criminal behavior or purposefully self inflicted. Education/licensing will only improve the behavior of those already acting in a responsible manner. There is no justification for placing bars on a constitutional right particularly where such licensing would only directly improve the statistics on a tiny minority of the incidents (606 deaths in 2010).

      You also make the point that guns are here to stay but, as another poster mentioned, licensing/registration and insurance could easily reduce the field of legal owners considerably. Also, you seem to be saying that there is no way the government will ever, or could ever, come after gun owners and take away their weapons. 30 years ago I would have agreed with you. It would have been nearly impossible to adequately maintain records regarding gun ownership/location to make mass, or targeted, gun confiscations feasible. However, as you also pointed out, in the age of information it is much, much, easier to track all this information and would allow whatever administration/congress to remove guns wholesale or cherry-pick who the powers that be want to have them.

      I have had, and still have, a great deal of respect for your writing and many of the ideas you have expressed over your writing career but not on this issue.

  7. R. Hamilton says:

    There is no epidemic: the murder rate in the US dropped from 9.8 / 100,000 in 1991 to 4.8 / 100,000 in 2010. This is certainly high compared to western Europe, but that arguably has as much to do with cultural differences as firearms availability.

    Here’s the FBI stats for murder by weapon type for 2011, totaled for all states and jurisdictions listed:

    Handguns 6,220
    Rifles 323
    Shotguns 356
    Firearms 
(type
 unknown) 1,684
    Total
 Firearms 8,583
    Knives or 
cutting
 instruments 1,694
    Other
 weapons 1,659
    Hands, fists,
feet, etc. 728
    Total
 Murders 12,664

    While the majority of murders are with firearms, note that one could also add up all highly portable means (handguns as well as highly portable non-firearms) and come up with a majority. Rifles and shotguns are each a tiny minority, and “assault” weapons (portrayed as scary in ways that the facts tend not to support) are a fraction of that.

    Existing barriers to ownership by the law-abiding (to include additional costs, state waiting periods, etc) are more than ample and do not impede crooks anyway, since there’s bound to be a black market for anything for which there’s a demand.

    Most expanded regulatory regimes, and probably most cost-transfer regimes, have little evidence to suggest their effectiveness and a lot of emotional baggage as political grist; and any money grab is a power grab too.

    Perhaps where there’s a sympathetic local sheriff that provides some structure and authority for citizen participation in safe, legal ownership and community-based defense, firearms owners might wish to voluntarily support such programs. That’s the level at which most authority ought to exist: local enough that people stand a chance of holding one another accountable, not off in a state capital or DC where votes have to be bought, not just once but every darn time around.

    1. I could make the same claims about Therman’s post and yours. You don’t seem to understand. First, 13,000 deaths is an epidemic, if an on-going one. Claiming that the rate of murder has declined slightly is like saying that war-time casualties have declined slightly.

      Among the largest sources of weapons used in crimes are those stolen from “responsible” citizens or obtained less than legally. The principal reason for accidental deaths is improper storage. Tell me again that insisting on better controls over acquisition, storage, and personal liability won’t make a difference. And tell me exactly what steps you’d take that would make a difference… because nothing that the gun lobby or the NRA has proposed so far will. Or are you both saying that the current death rate from firearms is acceptable and nothing should be done?

  8. James says:

    I personally don’t really understand what people have against regulation/licensing of guns.
    I’m from Australia, where automatic weapons have been banned since 1930 and most semi-automatic weapons have been banned since the Port Arthur massacre in 1996. That massacre was the last of its kind.

    Depending on which study you read, the overall gun violence rate has either not changed (usually research funded by gun lobbyists) or decreased (which tends to come from research funded by ant-gun lobbyists); either way there have been no massacres in Australia since the Howard government removed the vast majority of semi-automatic weapons from the market and strictly regulated other classes of gun.
    Now, anyone who owns a gun must be able to show that the weapon and any ammunition is stored in a secure safe.

    Licensing and regulations alone certainly won’t solve gun violence absolutely, but it’s a step in the right direction.

    As a side note, I love your work Mr. Modesitt
    And regardless of whether I agree with them, I always find your articles interesting

  9. AndrewV says:

    I apologize for the double posting, but there was some sort of a hitch when I submitted my comment, and it came out poorly. Let me try again:

    ******

    Let’s take these a point at a time, sir.

    >>One, I’m not arguing for taking guns away from responsible people. I’m saying responsible people who own guns need to be actually responsible. Theoretically, at least, Adam Lanza’s mother was a responsible individual — but not responsible enough.<>Second,you’re suggesting firearms insurance would be as expensive as car insurance. Gee-whiz… if it turns out that way, then it proves the need for it to compensate all the victims of gun violence, intended or not.<>Third, regulations and laws get enacted and implemented exactly because people don’t do the “right” thing, but, more to the point, requiring people to be fiscally and physical responsible does work — as the statistics with automobiles, and quite a few other things, prove.<>Guns result in 31,000 deaths and over 70,000 injuries in the U.S. annually.<>Will my suggestions cost people money? Of course they will. Responsibility, fiscal or otherwise, doesn’t come cheap… and the implication behind your complaints is that it should. The very fact that you’re upset suggests that what I propose just might work.<>Finally… the current situation isn’t working, and taking away guns won’t work. So… exactly what do you propose that will WORK better than what I’ve suggested?<<

    Thank you for asking.

    I don't think we should take away the guns; we should take away the bad people. If we toughen mandatory sentences for gun crimes (say 5 years to serve if one produces a gun while committing a crime, 10 years to serve in the same situation if it is fired, and 15 years to serve if someone is injured from a round the criminal fires) then we would reduce gun crimes quickly.

    We can’t stop mass murder altogether, as we witnessed in Boston a week ago, but stronger sentencing will make a criminal worry about the consequences of their actions. I want to make a criminal think long and hard before producing a gun. If they chose to commit a crime, I want them to feel like they will most likely be facing superior firepower. That will reduce overall crime AND reduce the number of people hurt or killed by firearms.

    And that's the point here. As shown above, 99% of all gun owners are responsible and do not injure or kill anyone. Why make them pay for someone else's mistakes?

  10. AndrewV says:

    I’m not entirely certain what is going on, but 80% of my response is being deleted.

  11. Let’s also consider another comparison. We require licensing and insurance and registration for cars and drivers, and there is one vehicle death or injury for every 1600 drivers. By contrast, there is one death or firearms injury for every 500 owners of firearms. So…in both cases, the “responsible” owners/operators are the vast majority, but we require licensing, registration, and insurance for the form of use that is three times safer than the one we don’t. Seems to me a bit discriminatory… and foolish.

  12. Tim says:

    In the UK, we do not have guns (at least openly and yes, we have gun crime). Since Dunblane in 1996 where 16 children were killed, all handguns were eventually outlawed. This meant that my neighbours who were heavily into black powder etc. had to hand in their guns. And they did. Not only that, if guns are then discovered and notified to the police here appears to be a mandatory a jail sentence regardless of circumstances.

    The only guns in the UK I have ever seen in the past 15 years are farmers with shotguns and police at London’s Heathrow airport (and that was a shock when they started displaying them). However, as LEM states, such an approach will never work in the US, where guns are considered differently.

    If you want a shotgun in the UK, you need to register (as a responsible citizen). Therefore, I cannot see why people who have guns in the US cannot feel they should also register this fact. If you feel you should not register, then what is this really saying?

  13. Rehcra says:

    I fully agree with licensing ownership and use of guns. I also feel we should do the same for drug use so I don’t know how “universally appealing” my opinions on becoming more of a licensing society are.

    What is over looked in this hole debate is why we have a right to firearms in the United States. We have rights for reasons not just because we should have them. Figure out past reasons and how those causes have changed would help figure out how our right to have firearms should change. Anything short of that leads to the worst place in between tradition and change.

    (On a side note I have to say although I agreed totally on your reasoning behind what you said about gun rights I did not agree on your actual statements about privacy or example given about limiting blind peoples right to any firearms.)

    -rehcra

  14. Therman says:

    This is an issue I feel strongly about but I am willing to listen and try to understand your position on this issue. I really don’t see where your plan to register and license will have sufficient impact to justify the cost you are proposing be placed on individual gun owners and on the further erosion of the rights of the private citizen. If you could tell me where licensing and registration will have a significant benefit, I would be interested in hearing it.

    Here is the breakdown on accidental and homicide deaths in 2010 as reported by the CDC.

    Breakdown of Accidental Deaths in 2010

    Vehicular 35,332
    Other Land 1,029
    Other Transport 1,600
    Falls 26,009
    Firearm Related 606
    Drowning 3,782
    Fire Related 2,782
    Poisoning 33,041
    Unspecified 16,678
    Total 120,859

    Assault/Homicide Deaths in 2010

    Firearms 11,078
    Other 5,181
    Total 16,259

    As you can see, accidental firearms deaths were only .5% of all accidental deaths. I’m pretty sure your proposal for licensing isn’t due to this statistic even though it is in this category that strict regulatory controls and educational requirements would have the most direct impact.

    It is assaults/homicides where I believe you are saying that licensing will have the greatest impact. I would like to know why you believe licensing will significantly impact criminal behavior. I think you are probably correct that there will be some reduction of guns flowing into criminal hands from robberies. You have stated that the majority of weapons used in crimes come from this source and if you have evidence to prove that, please let know. I am of the opinion that with all the weapons in circulation and the number of people out there who are quite capable of building them, that it is too late for this to be effective without taking draconian measures to reduce the number of guns in circulation. I also agree that it will be more difficult for criminals to purchase firearms from legitimate sources. I’m also quite certain that criminals will still find ways to get guns or will find other methods to meet their goals.

    I would also like to ask if you have considered the negative consequences. If everyone is registered/licensed (computer records), you can bet it won’t be long before that list is in the public domain and will give other criminal elements a roadmap to get more guns or will make them much more willing to burglarize a house if they are assured that there are no guns in the residence. Putting additional restrictions on gun owners will also, as others have stated, decrease gun ownership. This will result in further disarmament of the civilian populace and make criminal activities such as robbery and assault less risky for the criminal elements out there and as you can see from statistics in other countries, or states, increase violent crime, if not gun related crime. Finally, though you and everyone one else I spoken too who holds your views dismisses the 2nd amendment or its relevance it still means a lot to a lot of people. In the words of Benjamin Franklin “They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

    In summary, can you tell me what the benefits of your proposal to register/license all guns will be and how you will minimize the negative consequences?

  15. I’m about done with this “debate,” because whatever I cite, whatever I present, someone brings up “rights,” as if they were handed down from the deity. “Rights” are what society allows, no more and no less. They’re not absolute, and they can be changed, but that aside, even the courts have held that restrictions are constitutional. Restrictions are not the withdrawal of rights, but modifications so that those rights don’t infringe on others.

    One of the most detailed studies I’ve run across is “Sources of Crime Guns in Los Angeles. California”, which breaks down all the sources of guns used in crimes. The bottom line is that criminals only obtain 5%-15% of their weapons from theft, and roughly 25% from “legal” sources. That means that 60%-70% come from “straw purchasers”, friends and family, and illegal dealing in weapons, all of which would be drastically reduced by the kinds of provisions I’ve advocated. Right now, there’s no way to track most weapons used by criminals, and therefore no way to fix responsibility.

    As for the other straw man… there are 120 million households in the USA, and 40 million own guns There is no way any government is going to walk up to one house in three and demand weapons successfully. Like it or not, gun owners, your guns are safe. Even if there were a “national gun registry,” and even if it were public, the number of registrants would pretty much mitigates against using such as a shopping list. Even now, there are other public metrics with better odds. Over 50% of all registered Republicans own guns, and those registration lists are essentially public. Like it or not, I’d like more of you to be held to being truly responsible. When at least 60% of weapons used by criminals come from supposedly responsible sources, those supposedly responsible sources need to be made more responsible.

    Oh… and according to L.A. study, roughly 50% of all criminals carried a firearm, despite the stiffer penalties for using one in a crime.

    Finally… a number of you keep asking what the benefits of my proposals will be. How about asking the other question? What do any of you have in mind to stop the carnage? Or do you honestly believe that the largely unlimited right to own firearms justifies more than 13,000 deaths a year?

  16. Therman says:

    Fine, what do I have in mind? Treat the criminals as criminals. If someone commits murder, remove them from society. Permanently. If someone takes another person’s remaining time on this earth, they forfeit their own. If society will do this in a timely manner, eventually, this behavior will be largely eliminated.

    You are proposing ways to treat a symptom with no real idea that it will reduce the murder rate itself, which I assume is the goal, or of what second or third order effects will be.

    As to your stiffer penalties, what, a couple more years in an environment where the inmates enjoy better living conditions than our servicemen and women enjoy when deployed? But that’s another topic.

    I guess I’m done with this debate as well.

    1. Therman… we already have the largest prison population in the world… and we have a society that largely won’t impose the death penalty because the facts have shown that too many people sentenced to death weren’t the ones who committed the crimes. I’m trying to craft something that might work… if imperfectly. I accede to the fact that guns in the USA aren’t going away; I’d like to suggest to you that you consider something that might work, rather than demanding proof that it absolutely will in this instance when it has worked with cars… or suggesting a solution that society has rejected outright. When polls show that 90% of the American people want greater restrictions on who buys guns and who can use them, we need to find some new approach.

  17. Therman says:

    I recognize the impossibility of changing our criminal justice system at this point. I also agree that we need to find a way to address this but I don’t think it will happen due to a wide range of factors but though my solution would be impossible to implement, I honestly think that if yours were implemented it would not significantly reduce the murder rate and would have a range of negative consequences.

    Sir, I am all for background checks and a nationwide database containing the identification of every felon or certifiable psychotic in this country. This measure should be sufficient to address your argument that criminals are able to purchase firearms illegally. I am also agreeable to a law that would criminalize knowingly selling firearms to criminals. What I’m not agreeable to is imposing restrictions on law abiding citizens unless there is excellent reason to believe that it will not only reduce gun related homicides but homicides as a whole and that it wouldn’t result in an increase in violent crime overall. I haven’t seen any studies that look at this holistically and that needs to be done before we move in this direction since once we cross this line, it is really difficult to cross back once there are vested interests and a supported bureaucracy.

    I’m not against taking action but we are talking about the fabric of our society and we need to ensure that such action has long-term benefit and isn’t taken blindly or out of frustration to an endemic social ill. Murder has been with mankind as long as man has been around as far as I can tell and what tool is used to commit it, in the end, isn’t that important.

    Speaking of society, you made a statement about rights being granted by society and that society determines the rights of its members and you are absolutely correct. However, keep in mind that society also exists due to a compact of it’s citizens. Also keep in mind that for the time being, society does grant the rights given in the 2nd amendment and that you need to convince society as a whole to relinquish them. Trying to just take them arguably nullifies the compact.

  18. For the LAST time, I am not trying to take anyone’s rights! I am suggesting that the exercise of those rights requires certain steps. Licensing a car doesn’t deprive you of the car. Requiring a driver’s license to show you know how to operate the car doesn’t deprive you of driving… unless you prove you can’t drive. Why is it that so many of you gun supporters seem to think that anything that requires responsibility on your part [as opposed to responsibility on someone else’s part] will deprive you of your guns?

    1. Therman says:

      Of course you are suggesting taking away rights! You are suggesting fees/taxes/insurance and the whole ball of wax. Once we start down that road the door is open to tax gun ownership right out of existence if the government so chooses. Not in the next few decades but the process would have begun.

      Also, you keep talking about responsibility. Laws against misuse of firearms already exist that society can use to hold gun owners responsible for if they break them. I don’t see how licensing or registration is going to make a person more or less responsible. I would also contend that the vast majority of law abiding gun owners are well above average when it comes to personal responsibility.

      All you are saying is that law abiding gun owners should pay for the privalage of owning a gun. Right there you are saying that gun ownership is not a right. So if you impose a tax/fee you have taken away the right. A right is unencumbered. This is the whole argument the democrats have been making on voting rights and whether IDs can be required.

      In addition, your argument about gun licensing being equivalent to vehicle licensing (proving you are capable of operating a vehicle properly) also doesn’t hold water. Look at the statistics on ‘accidental’ gun related incidents. And looking at homicides, it’s pretty obvious that these folks know how to use a gun if for an ill purpose.

      1. Therman — a set of restrictions or taxes on a “right” does not take that right away. The Founding Fathers stated absolutely that the Supreme Court was the judge of what is constitutional or not. The Court has declared that restrictions on the right to bear arms are constitutional. You may not like it; you may think it takes away your rights. It is your privilege to believe that. It is not your “right” to declare what is constitutional or not; under the Constitution, it is the Supreme Court’s right.

        1. Therman says:

          So, you must agree that a poll tax and/or a requirement that citizens be licensed in order to vote would be a good thing too? After all, voting the wrong way can do a lot more damage than any firearm.

          1. That’s not the way the Supreme Court saw that either. In 1966, in Harper v. Virginia State Board of Elections the Supreme Court ruled that poll taxes were not constitutional. The court declared that voter qualifications had no relation to wealth or the ability to pay a tax.

            So far, at least, reasonable requirements to prove identification, including photo IDs,have not been declared an unreasonable burden, and I don’t have a problem with some stronger ID measure, provided an exemption/alternative proof is granted to people born before 1940[because in something like 5% of U.S. counties birth registration wasn’t required at that time].

          2. Therman says:

            I’m aware of the previous ruling on the Poll Tax issue. The point I was trying to make is that if you tax a right, it really isn’t a right anymore.

        2. Therman says:

          Oh, if possible, could you give me the case you are referring to regarding the Supreme Court ruling that restrictions on the right to bear arms are constitutional?

          1. The Heller case — 2008

        3. Therman says:

          Thanks. My interpretation is that they left the question open but I will concede that they didn’t specifically say that licensing would be unconstitutional and didn’t address the DC licensing requirement. However, my point stands, if you reduce a right to something that is taxed or requires it be purchased, it really isn’t a right anymore since you can price it out of the ability of some citizens to pay for it. This leaves the door open to tax our remaining basic rights under the Constitution. I can’t see a situation where this is a good thing.

  19. Nick says:

    May I cite a system which, if I have read correctly, is the sort of thing being proposed. Here in NZ, if you want to be able to purchase and use firearms you have to jump through a certain number of hoops:

    1) You have to be over 16 and pass a background check
    2) you have to attend a firearms safety course and pass a written exam
    3)you have to supply references (one of which must be your spouse or next of kin, and the other unrelated to you)
    4) you have to provide firearms storage area than meets certian criteria

    Once this is done (and the fees paid) you can then be licensed, which give you the ability to purchase any number of sporting rifles and shotguns. Your license lasts you 10 years, at which time you have to apply for renewal (which involves resitting the test).

    You can then, if you desire, seek endorsements to own pistols (which has additional requirements, such as membership of an approved pistol club); or becoming a collector (in both cases you have to have a corresponding higher level of firearms storage security).

    It really is little different from someone having to prove they can handle a motor vehicle on the highway safely. yes pistols and automatic weapons have greater restrictions, but so do motor vehicles – you can’t get a car licence then jump straight behind the wheel of a Mack truck – you have to prove you know how to control it safely first.

    1. James says:

      I don’t really have anything more to add to this: just the fact that the Australian system is pretty much the same as the NZ system from what I can tell, and it certainly seems to work

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