Arms, And The Regulation Thereof: Let's Come To A Consensus.

Inspired by the recent Supreme Court ruling affirming the individual rights interpretation of the 2nd Amendment, as well as Sal Ammoniac’s recent thread here.

Okay, one of the central pillars of the gun-control advocate’s position has basically been that, when it comes to regulation of firearms, anything goes; it’s a collective right and anything you get beyond that is at the sufferance of the state. This is simplified, of course, and there are nuances and shades of gray, but that’s the essence of at least the “hard liners.”

This pillar has been kicked right out from underneath them.

Yet, the SC has also ackonwledged that “reasonable restrictions” are Constitutional, without having touched upon what constitutes “reasonable.”

So, my challenge is this:

Let’s put our heads together, posit and postulate in good faith, and try to arrive at a concensus at what constitutes "reasonable."

Having been down this road more times that I care to remember, let me lay down, for the purposes of our discussion, a “Glossary of Terms,” so that we are all speaking (approximately) the same language, and that we are dealing in FACT (as opposed to hearsay, supposition, fantasy, or Hollywierd).

Basic Terminology:

Arms: a firearm meant to be carried and employed by a single individual.

Ordnance: Heavy Gear. Military Hardware. If it explodes, it’s ordnance. If it has an “area effect” (mortars, artillery, chemicals), it’s ordnance. If it takes more than one person to operate (machineguns, tanks, artillery, aircraft carriers) it’s ordnance. If it has a “mass casualty effect” (grenades, mortars, artillery, chemicals, biologicals, nukes) it’s ordnance. If it’s “anti-material” (shoots down jets, blows up tanks, sinks ships) it’s ordnance.



CAPESCE? :dubious: **

Handgun: aka “pistol.” A firearm able to be held, aimed, and fired in one hand. May be fired two handed in something like a Weaver Stance or CAR for additional stability/control. Examples: M1911, Beretta 92F, Colt Pyton.

Long Gun: a firearm meant to be held, aimed, and fired with two hands. Typically a rifle or shotgun. Examples: Winchester Model 70, M-16 Family of Rifles, Remington 870.

Carbine: a “light” long gun. More compact in size/weight that a typical long gun. Typically fires rifle ammunition. Examples: Ruger Mini-14, M-4.

Revolver: a handgun with a hinged cylinder that typically hold 6 rounds (some smaller caliber versions may hold more). Smith & Wesson Model 29, Colt SAA.

Semi-Automatic (or semiautomatic): an action type, found on handguns and long guns, in which by discharging the firearm, the next round in the firearm’s clip or magazine is automatically loaded, but not fired; the trigger must first be completely released before the firearm can once again be discharged. Examples: Colt M1911, AR-15, Ruger Mini-14.

Automatic: an action type, typically found on long guns (but on a few rare models of handguns, as well), in which by discharging the firearm, the next round in the firearm’s clip, magazine, or belt, is automatically loaded and then discharged as long as the trigger is depressed, and will continue to fire until the trigger is released, the ammo runs out, or a mechanical stoppage “jams” the weapon. Examples: M-60, G-3, UZI.

Machine Gun: a large, heavy, automatic firearm, typically crew served and either bipod- or tripod-mounted. Typically belt-fed. Quite often vehicle and aircraft mounted. Examples: M-60, M-2.

Submachine Gun: a very small, compact, automatic, long gun. They may be able to be fired as a handgun, but that’s typically only seen in Hollywood; professionals tend to encourage two-handed use. Submachineguns are differentiated from Carbines by the fact that they typically fire pistol ammunition. Example: UZI, MP-5.

Lever, Bolt, or Pump Actions: a class of firearms in which, after the firearm is discharged, some mechanical contrivance must be operated to extract and eject the spent round, chamber the next round, and recock the weapon. Examples:

Lever action: Winchester Model 94.
Bolt Action: Remington Model 700.
Pump Action: Mossberg 500.

Single Action, Double Action: typically used to describe handguns, both revolvers, and (though less common nowadays) semi-automatics.

Single Action: a firearm in which the firearm must first be manually cocked before the trigger is capable of discharging the firearm; until the firearm is cocked, pulling the trigger doesn’t do squat. On a semiautomatic handgun like the M1911 (see above), after the first round is discharged the action also recocks the firearm.

The “trigger pull” (the pressue the shooter exerts on the trigger to discharge the firearm) is typically very light on a single action once the firearm has been cocked, leading some to consider them “unsafe.”

Double Action: a firearm in which the act of squeezing the trigger will first cock the firearm and then discharge it.

The “trigger pull” is typically fairly heavy on at least the first round for double action firearms. Since revolvers don’t recock after being discharged like semiautomatics, all rounds have heavy “trigger pull;” semiautomatics tend to have significantly lighter “trigger pull” after the first round is discharged.

Firearm License: an official government document issued to a person, stating that they may legally possess firearms. It may differentiate by type, location, etc.

Firearm Registration: a government maintained list of people and their firearms, by type, location, address, etc.

Trigger Lock: a mechanical locking device, which fits inside the trigger guard, preventing a firearm from being discharged. Some newer model have trigger locks built into the frame of the firearm.

Mandatory Storgae: laws/regulations mandating where and how firearms must be stored. For example: “Unloaded, in a locked steel gun safe.”

Open Carry: carrying a firearm in a manner readily visible to any and all. Typically a handgun, in a hip holster. Not very common outside a few locales. Fairly common in rural areas during hunting season(s).

Concealed Carry: carrying a firearm, typically a handgun, in a manner not readily visible to one and all. Legal concealed carry, where it is allowed, is almost universally restricted to licensees. Licensing requirements vary widely by jurisdiction, to ridiculously easy to obscenely complex (bordering on impossible).

Shall Issue: a licensing standard in which the applicant is granted a license as long as all licensing requirements are satisfied. Licensing agents and agencies have little if any authority to deny a license as long as all licensing requirements are satisfied.

May Issue: a licensing standard in which the licensing agent or agency may, at their sole discretion, withhold, delay, or deny a license even if all licensing requirements are satisfied. The licensing agent or agency may or may not be required to disclose to the applicant the reason for delay or denial.

If you have a problem with this terminology, please preface your post with your comments/questions/concerns/disputations, as opposed to expostulating at length before saying, “Oh, yeah, by ‘X,’ I actually mean ‘Y’.”

Before laying out my views, let me state, to the best of my knowledge and recollection, the current “state of affairs” with regard to current gun control laws in the U.S. If I miss anything, other gun/law-savvy Dopers should by all means correct me or add to this.

Automatic firearms, submachineguns, and machineguns are already heavily regulated at the federal level in the U.S.; photo I.D., fingerprints, extensive background check and local LEO letter of recommendation are required. Some states may have additional requirements. Some states ban these weapons entirely.

All legally owned automatic firearms in the U.S. are Federally registered. This registry is “frozen.” No new firearms may be added; older, currently registered firearms may be removed. This has had the effect of making automatic firearms prohibitively expensive to legally purchase.

Legal owners of automatic firearms are subject to random inspections from federal agents.

Federal law mandates that semiautomatic weapons be designed and manufactured in such a way as to render their “actions” (the mechanical fiddlybits inside the firearm frame) virtually impossible to modify to automatic capability. Older weapons, grandfathered in before this law, have no such stipulation.

There are aftermarket, externally mounted trigger accessories which allow semiautomatics to function (to some varying degrees of success) as automatics. These skirt the previously listed mandate because these aftermarket gizmos and gadgets do not effect the “action.” IIRC, some states prohibit these trigger devices.

Forty-Eight states allow some form of concealed carry, although nine of these are “may issue,” and a few of those nine essentially prohibit it by the simple expedient of denying almost all applicants.

Some states have “reciprocity agreements” with other states, by which they acknowledge certain other state’s concealed carry licences.

Federal law protects firearm transport for legitimate sporting purposes through all jurisdictions. For example, let’s say a person obtains a hunting license for a distant state, and their travel route takes them through a “No Firearms Allowed” county or municipality, or a “License Required” state like New York. No state-level or lower LEO may detain or arrest our hunter for “Illegal Possession/Transport of a Firearm” while in transit.

Federal law prohibits handguns from being bought and sold by individuals across state lines; only licensed firearm dealers may do so.

Federal law requires, at a minimum, at a gun store, that a prospective firearm purchaser fill out and sign a BATF Form 4473, present a photo ID, and undergo a background check through NICS. Individual states may impose additional requirements.

Private sales between J. Average Citizen and J. Random Citizen have no such requirements, but it is still illegal (Federal, and quite often sate as well) to knowingly sell or otherwise transfer possession of a firearm to a person who is ineligible to possess a firearm.

So, let the discussion begin.

My Recommendations/views:

At the Federal level:

1). Outline, or otherwise confer with all 50 States, and arrive at a uniform, shall-issue, periodically renewable standard for a Firearm Owners License. Safety training should figure prominently in such a license.

2). Outline, or otherwise confer with all 50 States, and arrive at a uniform, shall-issue, periodically renewable standard for Concealed Carry Licensing requirements. State-to-State reciprocity should figure into this.

3). Outline, or otherwise confer with all 50 States, and arrive at a uniform consensus at what constitutes “Arms.” For instance, the “Assault Weapons Bans” where they exist, would probably be struck down (IMO). Make a “Preemption Law” that States cannot exceed the Federal limitations.

4). Reopen the Automatic Weapons Registry. But otherwise leave all other requirements for ownership intact. Since 1933, the number of violent crimes committed with legally owned automatic weaponry can be counted on the fingers of one hand, with enough fingers left over to plug both ears, and pick a nostril. I think these are pretty safe.

5). Curtail unregulated private sales/transfers of all firearms. Make all sales/transfers go through firearms dealers, with the same paperwork and background check requirements that dealers go through. Dealers should be limited in the fees they charge for this service.

6). Create an “E-form” freely available to all dealers, on which they can fill out for each purchase of a firearm all pertinent data found on the 4473, as well as the attachment of a digital photo of the buyer and a decent copy of their photo ID. Computers and digital cameras aren’t that damned expensive. A copy of any purchase’s “E-form” must be produced, on demand, to any LEO.

At the State Level(s):

1). Allow individual States to determine if they want to create/maintain a Firearms Registry.

Changed “Amrs” to “Arms” in the title.

:smack: I knew in a post that lengthy that, no matter how many times I previewed, the spelling monster would get me.


See? That’s exactly what happens when you start bargaining our rights away. Someone comes along and decides they know what’s best for us.

<mutter>changing Amrs all willy-nilly</mutter>

I agree with pretty much all of your list, ExTank.

I think, though, that the licensing should involve a certain level of practical qulaification. No need to earn a Marksman’s Badge - just a visit to a firing range. If you can hit a man-sized target at 50m (20m with a pistol); If you can follow the range commander’s instructions (without, say, turning and pointing a loaded weapon at him) and if you can clear your own weapon, then you pass. This should be done on an annual basis, with each weapon you own, in order to renew your license.

I’ve also never understood the American obsession wth concealed/unconcealed carry. Who cares how you carry your weapon?

Also - what about taxation? Should the local gvernments be allowed to set their own levels of taxation for firearm sales/licensing?

My general opinion of what is reasonable / unreasonable:
Any form of gun registration or licensing is always unreasonable and intolerable. This includes registrations of gun owners and individual firearms. No training or license should be required in order to purchase a firearm. (In other words, pretty much the status quo in nearly every state.) I certainly think every gun owner ought to be trained, but I do not think the facts justify placing such an encumbrance on our rights. Most gun owners are responsible, and I do not think a “least common denominator” training course will do much to either screen or help the irresponsible.

Instant background checks are reasonable, and should continue. Updating the system to make it more reliable is always encouraged.

Private transfers should still be unregulated. Restrictions on private transfers are too easy to circumvent to make them anything but a burden on the law-abiding.

Felons and the insane should still not be permitted to own guns, however, prohibition should be narrowed to only include violent offenders. Also, Congress should stop blocking funding to the investigation of petitions for relief from disability that are specifically authorized under 18 USC 925(c).

Reopen the machine gun registry, and slightly ease the requirements. Buyers shouldn’t be at the mercy of a local law enforcement officer, who might capriciously deny permission. Also, submitting to random inspections should not be required. Reduce the tax stamp cost. I will make an exception to my first rule and say the registration can stay - no sense changing everything in such a hurry.

Assault weapon bans are both unreasonable and silly. Any ban on a general class of firearms should not be allowed. (Actually, I can see some such bans passing constitutional muster in light of the reasoning employed in Miller: no pen guns or cell phone guns, for example.)

Concealed carry: I would like to see a federal requirement that every state at least adopt Shall-Issue licensing, but beyond that (training requirements, etc.), I’d leave it to the states. Granted, one benefit of uniform standards would be complete reciprocity; that’s certainly a very attractive proposition. I guess I’m not entirely sure how I feel about this one, actually.

Open carry should be at least as permitted as concealed carry. That is, if you have a concealment license, you should be able to carry unconcealed as well. I’d probably leave this up to the states; here in Washington, no license at all is required to carry openly, and I’m fine with that.
This is just my ideal set of base standards; basically, background checks, prohibitions to violent criminals and the insane, training and licensing requirements for concealed carry, and machine gun registration are all okay. Other than that, I favor a generally hands-off approach. I know that most of my preferences aren’t directly supported by Heller (yet); for example, it might be permissible for states to require registration. I would prefer they didn’t, though, and I’d fight like hell against anything of the sort happening here in Washington, but maybe allowing states to decide that for themselves wouldn’t be so terrible.
Allesan, quite aside from my distaste for licensing in general, some people own hundreds of guns - how on earth are they going to qualify with every one of them every year? :stuck_out_tongue:

I take it in Israel it’s commonplace to see guys walking around casually with guns. Except for a few places in the Southwest, I find it to be rare in America. People are not used to seeing civilians with a gun on their hip. They are used to seeing cops with sidearms openly carried, and they seldom think twice about it - despite the fact that the cop in question might not know how to use the gun for shit, and despite the fact that cops can be huge fuck-ups and shoot the wrong person by accident, or whatever - that police badge, for most people, immediately makes people trust the cop. (Please don’t take this as me being anti-cop, because I’m not. I’m just highly skeptical of people putting blind trust in police but not according the same trust to non-law enforcement gun owners.)

I think people should test their weapons on a regular basis anyway, whether or not the law requires it. It’s just good procedure. There’s nothing more embarrassing than reaching for a weapon and then wondering Wait - how does this one work? (actually, there is something more embarrassing - reaching for a weapon and having it blow up in your face).

Firearms are a huge responsibility - they’re like pets, it a way. Owning hundreds of dogs, say, doesn’t make you any less responsible for the care of each, does it?

Break Action: A gun in which the barrels are hinged at the end, and, when a latch is disengaged, rotate perpendicular to the bore to expose the breech. Examples: Flare guns, many single and double-barreled shotguns, like the Remington Spartan 310. Also, the rare combination gun, which has both rifle and shotgun barrels. These guns are all single-shot per barrel by definition.

I don’t entirely believe that 5 is quite something I agree with. I may be wrong, but it would seem to inherently create a firearms registry. I disapprove of them, not least of which because of the inherent annoyance resulting in dealing with the police every time someone commits a crime with an illegal weapon that might possibly be of the same model as one of mine. (You can’t dust for vomit, and you can’t run ballistics tests on a shotgun.)

Alessan, the only reason I disagree with your suggestion is that having a gun is a right. It is well established that certain police departments are, in point of fact, dishonest in these matters. Your method would cause serious potential issues in that a individual could at whim disarm entire areas by denying them certification.

This is part of why gun legislation is so tricky. It’s a good idea. If we could trust the people enforcing it not to lie, I would support it. I insist on it, on a personal level. But, well, police departments lie, or impose impossible standards.

… on the other hand, there’s also the saga of my Mossberg, which belonged to someone’s father, and was stuck in a closet for 30 years, unused. If the person had to shoot it every year, I wouldn’t have it now.

I see nothing wrong with your list. And I imagine increased consistency would be desireable.
Rather than regulation, I desire VERY STRONG mandatory penalties against anyone convicted of just about any crime while carrying. And although I favor the largely unrestricted private ownership of arms, I really do not trust and respect my fellow citizens sufficiently that I am comforted by the idea of greater numbers of people carrying (either concealed or not).

There’s no reason why the licensing and certification need to be done by the police. Put another local or federal agency in charge of the whole deal, one whose only goal is to keep the bureaucracy running and collect the licensing fees. The police should be in charge of checking licenses, not issuing them.

Same issue, either way. Federal is… a whole big bag of worms I don’t think it’s worth going into, and local is still going to be 'Mayor don’t want guns, so I’m not approving your license."
I cite the current issues with DC and Chicago. Daley’s going freaking insane out there.

The problem with guns is the same problem with gay marriage, and the same problem with black people voting earlier than that. It’s a right, and in places where the people in power don’t want the right, they will make things difficult in interesting ways to exercise that right.

The only reason I cite black voting is because I’m thinking specifically of the various tests that were required to vote, including, say, translating long sections of latin. Any law involving regulation of a right has to be considered in this matter, because history has shown it will be abused.

It’s pretty much the same fight that people face to keep religion out of the schools. People with motivations keep sneaking it back in, and the local political structure wants it, because the local voters want it. Who cares if it offends the hindu family down the corner? Prayer is good for people. And guns are bad.

Annoying thing is that the groups challenging the various rights are opposed to one another and don’t see the blatant hypocrisy in their stances.

So, to bring us back to Reasonable and Regulation, we have to consider the history of perverted legislation in this country, and the fact that we have at least one living whackadoo Mayor who does things like drive bulldozers down runways while they’re still open, who will blatantly pervert them in public. And where there’s one good example… there’s a thousand smaller ones.

So, way I see it, any Reasonable Regulation has to be Daley-proof. Am I wrong or right?

I support “shall issue” laws in conjunction with reasonable licensing structure that requires training and/or passing a test showing appropriate proficiency & proper use knowledge for the firearm for which one is being licensed. I support the registration of firearms.

But wasn’t it federal intervention that secured black voting rights?

Seems as though the federal governemnt is the solution to all the local problems you brought up. What’s your problem with it?

Nailing down the legal doctrine “the Second Amendment protects an individual right which may be subject to standard time-place-and-manner constraints but may not be curtailed to the point of a de facto gun ban” will actually make it easier to insist on some basic safety measures (e.g. proof of competence required to carry in public).

I adamantly oppose firearms registration, competency requirements for purchase, and government interference in personal transfers.

Reasonable concealed carry regulations such as background checks, some kind of affordable training with the ability to “test out” that isn’t available only to cops and military, is not tied to a particular and registered handgun, etc.

I don’t really have any problem with gun shows requiring all transfers to have a background check, so long as a gun show is defined reasonably (not “two or more people and/or 2 or more firearms present”)

Mostly correct, but not entirely. You can skip the photo, fingerprints, and CLEO sign-off (which isn’t a recommendation – merely an indicator that the CLEO knows of no reason why you’d be disqualified from owning the MG; essentially the same thing as the NICS check, only antiquated) if you transfer the firearm to a corporation or trust instead of an individual. This is preferable if your CLEO refuses to sign the forms as a blanket matter of policy or if the firearm is going to be possessed by more than one person (such as a father and son where one or the other may take out the MG at times).

I believe this is incorrect. FFLs are subject to random inspections. Regular individuals who have purchased “transferrable” machine guns (i.e. those registered prior to the '86 registry freeze) are not subject to inspection.

It’s worth noting that some states, such as California, already prohibit such sales and require the transaction to be processed through an FFL.
…and now on to the actual discussion:

This gives me pause. Such licenses have traditionally been limited to more restrictive states, such as Illinois with their Firearm Owners Identification (FOID). Even California doesn’t go this far. They require a Handgun Safety Certificate (HSC) for purchasing handguns, but there’s no on-going license to keep the gun.

There’s a huge problem with this. Consistent licensing still leaves the actual carrying laws open to malicious legislation. There’s already a wide variance in where you can carry from state to state, and there’s nothing to stop a district from banning concealed carry within 5000 feet of a church, bar, school, or bus stop. So you’d need to standardize the carrying laws on a national basis, as well. This could backfire in that some states might end up with more restrictive carrying laws than they currently have.

You’d have even more fingers left over if you excluded from the count crimes committed by legally owned automatic weaponry that are exempt from the '86 law (i.e. owned by law enforcement).

This comparison makes no sense at all. If you toss a hundred dogs in a secure, climate-controlled room and leave them for a month, you end up with a hundred dead dogs (or ninety-nine dead dogs and one fat dog). If you toss a hundred guns in a secure, climate-controlled room and leave them for a month, you end up with a nice collection.

Some people collect guns, just like any other item. Some guns have historical or sentimental value. Some guns are just for looking at rather than firing. Some guns have hard-to-obtain or expensive ammo. I’m really not sure why you want to impose an undue burden on gun collectors who aren’t hurting anyone.

  1. I have to take issue with both of these. The Feds should have no say in the sales of firearms between individuals. In my state it is MY responsibility to insure that if I sell a handgun to someone, that they have the proper permits to purchase or to carry. Were something to go bad with that person after I sold them the gun, it is MY ass. If Iowans can handle this, I would like to think that the rest of the nation could as well.

  2. I take even greater exception with this proposal. I am surprised that you are even in favor of such. The 4473 is a file that is kept by the dealer in their own filing system, ONLY to be recalled should a gun that passed through their inventory be recovered or used in a crime. At that time, any pertinent info about the seller would be readily available. An “E” form is the first step in an “E” list, which I am vehemently opposed to as well. A picture is just window dressing and unnecessary.

Reasonable restrictions you ask? Simple, anyone with a clean record, proven by a NICS background check, should be able to buy anything immediately without wait or hassle short of an automatic weapon.

Regarding full-auto fun guns, the states should have no restrictions greater than the Feds in the licensing/ownership of said guns. To that end, all state must allow ownership. (Including the Tall Corn State…)

Any gun bans based on cosmetics or other such nonsense are out as well. Far from reasonable to ban a gun by the way that it looks.