Gun Contol Proposal

There’s been a lot of threads here on gun control, and most have degenerated into emotional, ideological mudslinging.

Here’s a proposal for gun control that tries to meet two needs: to radically reduce gun violence, and to permit Americans to own any firearms they want to.

My premise is that the problem is not gun ownership, it’s that there’s a large number of illegal and poorly secured firearms.

So, imagine the following legislation:

[li]All previous gun control legislation is now void.[/li][li]Any American citizen may own any firearm, up to and including automatic weapons.[/li][li]The sale of all firearms will be subject to the following conditions:[/li][list=1]
[li]All guns manufactured or imported in the U.S. will be “fingerprinted” - all conceivable identifying signatures of the firearm will be submitted to an agency of the federal government, to be kept on file until the gun is demonstrably destroyed, and available to all law enforcement agencies for comparison.[/li][li]The sale of firearms will be by licenced dealers only, who will be responsible for recording and reporting the sale to the above agency. The sale of personal firearms must be brokered through a licenced dealer.[/li][li]When purchasing guns, purchasers will be required to present, for the record, some form of acceptable I.D. - social security number, drivers licence, etc. - which must be verified immediately with the issuing agency (who would be set up to provide immediate checks). If the check for valid identification fails or is unavailable, no gun sale.[/li][/list=1]
[li]Possession of an unregistered gun is a felony punishable by life in prison.[/li][li]Failure to produce to any lawful authority, in a reasonable amount of time (like, a few hours), a registered weapon or identification demonstrating legal ownership of a firearm, is a felony punishable by life in prison.[/li][li]Failure to immediately report loss of a firearm, by theft or otherwise, is a felony punishable by life in prison.[/li][li]Unregistered sales of firearms is a felony punishable by life in prison.[/li][li]Use of a registered firearm in a crime subjects the perpetrator to a sentence multiplier of 2; use of an unregistered firearm in a crime subjects the perpetrator to a sentence multiplier of 4.[/li][li]No grandfathering of current ownership is permitted; current gun owners may register their guns appropriately, turn them over to authorities for destruction, or face the above penalties.[/li][li]Any criminal use of a firearm subjects the registered owner of that firearm to liability for the crime when the firearm is still under the control of the registered owner. In other words, if your kid takes your gun to school and blows away another kid, you’re liable for failing to take sufficient precautions in securing your gun. You can leave it loaded on the coffee table, but you’re running a hell of a risk in doing so.[/li][li]A class of citizens will be legally defined to be ineligible for gun ownership: felons, the mentally unstable, the mentally retarded, etc.[/li][li]No other gun control legislation is permitted.[/li][/list=1]

In this computerized day and age, the registration of firearms in this fashion could be instantaneous and present no practical barrier at all to obtaining a firearm. The point of this approach would be to control the traffic in firearms, rather than the firearms themselves.

In other words, people who want to own guns for legal purposes - hunting, personal defense, collecting - can obtain as many guns of any type as they want, as easily as going into a gun shop and showing a driver’s licence. On the other hand, obtaining a firearm for illegal purposes will be maximally difficult - untraceable guns will be almost impossible to obtain, or at least incredibly expensive given the hoops one would have to go through to “launder” a gun, and use of a firearm for illegal purposes will be be especially onerous if one gets caught. Also, gun owners would be responsible for securing their weapons properly, not by legislation, but by threat of responsibility for the consequences of failing to do so.

This wouldn’t prevent a Columbine High School; then again, school shootings of that type being statistically rarer than getting hit by lightning, that’s not the point. The point is to reduce gun violence in ordinary crimes and to make gun owners face the responsibility of owning a deadly weapon. Neither would it prevent militias from gathering and training if they wanted to.

No, guns wouldn’t disappear, and neither would gun crime. I believe, however, that the pool of illegal firearms would shrink over time, and as that pool shrank, so would gun violence. Add to that the severe criminalization of gun crimes, and it wouldn’t be worth it. Meanwhile, gun owners can swim in a pool of firearms, if they so desire.

Is this a compromise both sides can live with? Or that neither side can live with?

The only problem I would have is punishment not fitting the crime. Punishment for life just reeks of more drug war laws, you should not get less prison time for killing someone than having a gun.

Without draconian penalties, laws against the use of guns for illegal purposes have no effect, and the extra incentive to be a responsible owner is gone.

What swayed me was that, in British Colombia, where my parents retired, speeding tickets are now a minimum of $500 for any infraction over the speed limit, and the law is widely and promptly enforced. As a result, no one in B.C. speeds anymore. No one.

I don’t think its reasonable, hansel, but it would be better, and definitely more free!, than the hodge-podge laws that vary from state to state. So I could deal with it from a practical standpoint. I would like to add that the registration would be free for currently owned guns (only) and that possession is 100% of the law here…so that even if the gun you have is reported stolen or some such it wouldn’t matter.

I think there should be another law, however, which restricts persons from carrying firearms into both private and public buildings like restaraunts, banks, courthouse, etc.

Yeah, what kind of idiot follows his principles? :wink:

Fine, except for the fact that draconian policies are immoral.

I don’t really see how your proposal will solve anything. Honest people will have their registered, trackable guns. Fine. But what is to stop criminals from selling black market, untraceable weapons? The fact that it is more of a crime under your policy than current policy? It didn’t work for drugs; it’s not going to work for guns.

I would say that “draconian” measures are immoral. There really isn’t anything wrong, ideally, with extreme punishment.

Also, I would agree with hansel that this, in fact, would decrease the number of unregistered weapons. The drug analogy is not apt because there is no legal way to purchase cocaine, LSD, etc. In this instance guns would be legal to own so long as they are registered.

A decent plan, but if it were to be implimented I’m afraid the super-strict punishments would have to along with it for it to be effective.

So your solution is based on the concept of taking people who’s only crime was failing to follow some bureaucratic procedure and locking them up for the rest of their lives? That’s brilliant. So if a person has an unregistered gun in their car and get pulled over by the police, what’s their incentive not to shoot their way out? The fear of getting 2 or 4 life sentences? We tend to reserve life sentences for criminals who commit horrific crimes and pose an IMMEDIATE danger to the public.

Your proposal wouldn’t work for the following reasons:

  1. You forgot about the 300 million firearms already in the US not registered under your system.

  2. You seem to think that guns could not be smuggled as easily into the US as drugs, illegal immigrants and pretty much everything else that sneaks past customs.

  3. Any bar code, computer chip or serial number that can be placed on a firearm can easily be filed or etched off.

  4. Only law-abiding citizens are worried about stiff penalties. Criminals don’t think they’ll get caught.

  5. A I mentioned above, your sentences are so ridiculously harsh that any offense involving a gun is guaranteed to end with a shoot-out since the perpetrators have nothing to loose.

Maybe that’s how things are done in British Colombia but here in the US of A we believe in letting the punishment fit the crime.

Carry on :smiley:

Ummmm … yah.

I live in BC … my last speeding ticket was for $165. People still speed all the time (the city of nanaimo, a smallish city north of me, recorded $50,000 worth of fines within the downtown core for the 2000 year).

I see your point on draconian gun laws and I agree to some point, I think life for illegal possession but 4x for a crime with an illegally possesed gun seems a little unfair on a variety of levels. I own 2 properly registered guns bought through licenced dealers so I have nothing to fear buuuut. Punish those who commit crimes not punish society for failing to be perfect.

ever look into operation exile?

Not to read into it too much, but those reasons could just as well be in place for refuting current gun law.

IIRC you do support legislation, however.

I agree that a life sentence is a little harsh, but there are any number of tough penalties that could be imposed such as house arrest for twenty years, revoking of driver’s liscence, etc etc.

There’s a lot of freedoms to restrict to make punishments more harsh.

I would go with a simple fine, which if you can’t pay about 30 days jail time amd of course taking the gun.

Draconian measures just don’t work. If the punishment doesen’t fit the crime then you exchange justice for tyranny. I don’t think it would be good if someone is more afraid of having a unregistered gun and being less afraid of cutting up someone with a knife. You have to remember there are other laws besides gun laws.

hansel, IMO your plan would be an excellent way to reduce gun crime as much as possible without stepping on the rights of law-abiding citizens, under three conditions:

  1. The sentences for illegal gun possesion must be set at a reasonable level. Others have already explained why.

  2. #10 must only apply to people who fail to take proper security measures (either lock up guns when not in use, or purchase guns that have built-in security devices that prevent unauthorized use). Nobody should be held liable for something he/she did everything reasonable to prevent.

  3. Require people to take safety classes before purchasing a firearm. Make sure the classes are as accessible as possible. Don’t force prospective gun owners to take time off work or drive hundreds of miles.

It may not be perfect, but it’s closer to perfect than anything the government has come up with, and I can’t think of anything better.

Locking someone up for failing to follow some bureaucratic procedure is exactly the point. I proposed the minimal and most absolute set of restrictions I could think of, and made them mandatory. They’re the price of having a system in which one may egally own any firearm one wants to, and can obtain it easily.

In other words, do it legally and you have all the freedom in the world. Do it illegally and you’re in a world of hurt.

No, I didn’t. You can register them, hand them over for destruction, or face the abovementioned penalties. I think that a large portion would be registered or handed over, and the rest would eventually be removed from circulation as their owners were caught, or the guns were disposed of in other ways.

This is a serious problem, but not fatal. For one thing, as someone pointed out, guns are always manufactured legally (unlike drugs). Therefore, there are legal and diplomatic means that the U.S. can use to pressure foreign gunmakers.

Remember, there was a civil trial in New York state in which several American gun makers were found liable for gun violence because they flooded their primary markets for the purpose of selling to a secondary, illegal market.

Christ, the U.S. State Department forces foreign countries to show a certain number of American films every year; they gutted the NFB in Canada under pressure of trade restrictions, just to avoid a competing filmmaking entity in North America. Surely, the U.S. can handle foreign gun manufacturers.

I wasn’t suggesting computer chips, and when I thought of fingerprints, I was thinking of all identifying marks, including the rifling on the barrel and ballistic signatures. Besides, under my proposal, owning an untraceable weapon is equivalent to owning an unregistered one, and a felony.

Criminals usually think about not getting caught, and it’s implausible to believe that a mugger wouldn’t choose pepper-spray or a stun gun over a pistol when he knows that he’ll get a sentence multiplier.

Those who would get into a shoot out would probably do so anyway.

The idea of the punishment fitting the crime is only violated if you think that the crimes I propose aren’t serious. I’m suggesting harsh penalties just to make them serious crimes.

I’ll accept that my proposed penalties may be too harsh, but I think that harsh penalties are necessary for the simplicity of the scheme. As I said, own guns legally, and it’s easy and convenient. Own and use guns illegally, and you’re in a world of hurt.

Asmodean mentioned that draconian penalties lead to tyranny. I think not, in cases where the crime is simple and comprehensible and very specifically limited.

I’m deliberately trying to simplify the issue to avoid the miasma of legislation we currently have.

The problem here is that “reasonable” is a very slippery idea, even legally. #10 applies in this way: you’re free to fail to take reasonable precautions, and you’re responsible for the consequences of that failure.

If I was a gun owner under this scheme, I would either have the gun locked up, ammunition separated, firing pin in a locked container elsewhere, or the gun on or within reach of my person.

If my kid knocked me out and took my gun from me, then I wouldn’t be reasonably responsible. But that’s the far end of the spectrum. In the gray part, I would be as responsible as a jury decided.

I’d be okay with this addition.

The compromise here is that the gun-control lobby has to accept the fact that people may own and use guns responsibly. The gun lobby has to accept that widespread gun ownership in the absence of adequate controls leads to unacceptable levels of gun violence. Reduce gun violence to acceptable levels (and don’t kid yourselves, there are acceptable levels of anything), and gun ownership becomes unproblematic.

None, really, but there’s a tremendous incentive not to have an unregistered firearm in the first place.


Why? Does the right to self defense end when you step into McDonalds? I feel a business is well within their rights to not allow concealed firearms onto their property. But I fail to see why a law is necessary.


I think hansel’s idea has a good core to it, but I definitely side with those who consider the punishments too harsh.

Life in prison? Get real.

I think even a year in prison would be pushing it for some of those offenses. I think small amounts of jail time coupled with stiff fines and loss of priviledges (for example, you can no longer legal own a gun, or loss of driver’s licsence, or whatever) is a better way to go.

The proposal wouldn’t work without the harsh penalties. The point of the proposal is to jump on illegal gun ownership and use with both feet, while at the same time making legal gun ownership and use much easier, providing a strong incentive to be a legal gun owner and a strong disincentive to be an illegal gun owner.

Asmodean suggested a fine or 30 days in jail for illegal gun possession. Would that really make someone worry about whether or not their gun was legal? If they failed to report it stolen and had to pay a fine because of it, how seriously will they think about it next time? If a gun dealer can make a lot of money selling guns without checking I.D.s, and then gets caught and has to pay a fraction of his illegal profits as a fine, is that really going to stop him?

Without the harsh penalties, there’s no compromise; there’s just the gun lobby getting what they want.

Just quickly perusing your initial proposal (I’ll read the entire thread and respond in full later), it appears to be nothing more than a gun registration scheme. Albeit with some exceedingly harsh penalties for otherwise law-abiding citizens and those with criminal intent. We just had a fairly emotion-free debate specifically on handgun registration. In that thread I asked for conclusive proof that registration actually reduces crime. No one was able to meet that request. So, now, I’ll pose the same request to you. Please prove conclusively that gun registration has the effects you claim in your original post. You’ve provided no evidence of that, that I can discern. I’d also suggest, in light of your “draconian penalties,” that the burden of proof weighs far more heavily on you than would be the case if more “normal” penalties are imposed.

Oh, I don’t know that a registration scheme wouldn’t not eliminate crime provided that the other stipulations were also met–namely, legal possession of a concealed firearm.

Provided that you could carry one around legally to begin with and that there was little trouble involved in registering the gun (hopefully for only a VERY small fee, not like the extortionistic BMV) it would seem that people would have no problem with having their gun registered. Perhaps part of the registration (renewed every four years?–who knows) include bullets fired from the gun to aid in ballistics tests.

It would seem to me that if everything you did right up to the moment of actually killing someone was legal (and who would have thought of something that silly :p) that there really would be less unregistered guns around.

But, it still raises issues with me because of the whole database thing. If that’s what it took for me to be able to legally defend myself in any of the states then I’d gladly accept it and work from there: that much is certain.

~~arl, who has already been arrested for concealed carry :frowning: