For reasons I don’t understand or agree with, the courts appear to be interpreting the second amendment to the U. S. constitution to give individuals (rather than state militias) the right to own guns with limited restrictions. Everyone agrees it is bad for criminals to have guns; however, those who despise all gun control consider it the lesser of two evils. For now they have won.
Here are my suggestions on controlling gun use, recognizing that forbidding people from owning them is not going to work.
1. Require background checks for all gun purchases, including those at gun shows (currently a huge loophole.)
2. Register the guns with their owners. This includes new purchases and all guns already owned. There should be no cost to gun owners for this registration. Anyone possessing an unregistered gun is committing a felony.
3. Each owned gun must have a ballistics test performed. The FBI will maintain a nationwide database as they do with fingerprints. This does not preclude states and local governments from keeping similar data bases if they choose. Because this will take time, require all gun sales (new or used) to include a ballistics test. Older guns can be included over time—starting with those types of weapons police deem most likely to be involved in crimes.
4. The owner has the responsibility for proper storage and use of the gun. If an unauthorized person gets hold of a gun and causes no harm, the owner has committed a misdemeanor. If a crime is committed with their gun (other than carrying a firearm not belonging to the person), the owner is guilty of a felony. If the gun is stolen and it was impossible for the owner to know, then they are off the hook—but the burden of proof is on the owner. I forgot to lock my gun cabinet doesn’t cut it.
5. Run periodic nationwide “turn-in-your-gun” events that allow people to turn in guns to the local police, who, after verifying ownership, will destroy the guns. I suspect anti-gun proponents can raise sufficient funds from their supporters to pay for this program.
With these simple law changes, the gun owner clearly bears the consequences of a gun’s misuse. This changes the battle lines from gun-owning rights to gun-owning obligations, which given where we currently are in this over-armed United States—might be a good change.