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Gun Control

by on May 30, 2021

Gun Control

by Marco M. Pardi

In response to the recent spate of mass shootings I am re-posting this piece I originally posted in 2018. Your comments would be greatly appreciated.

DISCLOSURE:

I have been a gun owner since age 15. As a highly trained professional I carried various firearms for years. I currently have, and regularly use a Concealed Carry license.

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Some people like to say gun control is using both hands. Cute. But on a serious note, I am a strong advocate of gun control, as I will spell out below. I am also serious about getting guns out of the wrong hands. When I read or see television coverage of, say, two drug dealers shooting each other to death in a deal gone bad my reaction is: Two down, more to go. When I read of an armed robber shot dead by an armed citizen in a convenience store, or a home invader shot dead by the home owner it’s, Hooray for our side. And when a trophy hunter gets stomped by an elephant or munched by a lion or bear, it’s three cheers for the home team. You get the idea.

But I am also appalled by the very obvious poor training “sworn professionals” receive. The media are filled with examples of police officers using their firearms inappropriately, usually with fatal consequences. Less obvious are the risks one runs in going to a neighborhood shooting range. I’ve seen too many examples of inadequate or absent firearms safety and oversight, including among police officers. One can only wonder at the general civilian population and their capacity to safely handle firearms.

Having said all that, the United States have a problem with firearms. One sector of the population holds up the 2nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution as if the hand of God wrote it. Never mind that the Republican owned Supreme Court chose to overlook the part about “a well regulated militia”. Another sector, quite likely the majority, wants much more control over guns.

But control over guns is not the only answer, or even the best answer. There are already literally millions of guns in private hands. Imposing controls on the further distribution of guns, especially certain types such as “military style assault weapons” is a visible and partially effective measure. The production and sale of “assault weapons” should be banned. These are fantasy weapons, for adult children who want to play soldier; none of them are approved for military issue and use and only an idiot would keep one for “home defense” or hunting. But, I have some additional suggestions:

  1. Just as we license drivers, we must license all gun owners. The purchase of any firearm, of any kind, would require a license. This would be dependent upon successful completion of a thorough background check and a firearms safety course, paid for by the prospective gun owner. This license must be renewed every five years, all costs borne by the owner.
  2. So how do we enforce this? Enact federal law that no ammunition, of any kind or caliber, can be sold without the licensed seller verifying that the purchaser has a valid and current license. A firearm without ammunition is just an expensive paper weight.
  3. Extend these laws to private sales. Gunshows are highly valued by people wanting to get around background checks. One can go into a gun show, approach a dealer or a private individual who has rented a booth, and “step outside the show” for an unregistered purchase of a gun seen inside the show. So, specify that violation of the federal law banning the sale of a firearm or ammunition to an unlicensed individual carries a penalty of up to 10 years in prison.
    1. There is a significant home industry in re-loadingammunition. Subject the sale of equipment and supplies, such as bullets, primers, and propellants to the same licensing requirement spelled out above.
    2. There is a growing interest in and ability to fabricate firearms from synthetic materials by using 3-D printers. Declare the manufacture, possession, or sale of these firearms to be illegal under federal law and carrying a mandatory prison sentence.

Many readers will say these measures do not address the problem of so many guns and so much ammunition already out there. That is largely true. But it is completely true that going apartment to apartment and house to house to register or confiscate these materials is out of the question. Would you like to do it? I bet not. Instead, we are faced with the classic Pig in the Python, the pig being the ammunition and the python being the guns. As the existing ammunition is used the pig moves through the python coming out the other end as useless shell casings. When people use all their ammunition and find they cannot acquire more without a thorough background check and license the frequency of use will decline. Eventually, if the laws are enforced, the problem will solve itself. Some people may dislike that word “eventually”. Welcome to the real world.

For now, the “real” world of America is the unreal world generated by Hollywood and fiction books. It is the armed frontiersman, the itinerant armed cowboy on the ever present horse, the homesteaders who are crack shots. Of course, none of these ever seems to run out of ammunition. The 2nd Amendment was written during the times of flintlock muskets. It had a very specific political goal in mind, and it had specific conditions attached. Contrast that with National Rifle Association practices which enroll children as young as six and place little or no limits on the types of available firearms.

Some people will say my suggestions are Draconian and will hurt the responsible gun owners. Let me personally assure you of something: Getting shot hurts a lot worse.

I’ve kept this entry short because I do not want to turn away the reader with arcane discussions about weapons technology or Byzantine legal systems. I also hope that, since it is short but to the point, readers will take the initiative to respond.

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18 Comments
  1. Steve permalink

    I agree with the notion of background check and firearm safety course completely. I am unfamiliar with procedure because I do not own a firearm. However a basic written test that includes a mental health assessment would also be a good idea. Training could be provided by a qualified officer so that the revenue could fund the police force and, hopefully, make their jobs easier and safer all around.

    Three dimensional printers are a real problem as they could make weapons undetectable which is dangerous for all. They should be illegal without question. I’m certain sites for schematics are monitored so it should be easy. Considering
    how far prosecution was pursued in the much less harmful realm of music and film piracy an investment in prevention of the loss of life seems perfectly logical.

    Finally, your statements about automatic weapons are spot on. There is no need for them in civilian life. Rambo can express his Uber masculinity with a really enormous truck or expensive sports car.

    Like

    • Thanks, Steve. I particularly like your suggestion of the police doing the training and using the fees. Of course, having been a registered Expert in All Small Arms while in Strategic Air Command, I would want to evaluate the training standards for the police involved.

      Yes, only someone who knows nothing about firearms would choose an “assault weapon” for home defense. As I wrote in a previous piece, over-penetration is a critical cause of unexpected injury/mortality in homes. Most of those weapons pierce easily through household walls and accuracy is an issue when using them.

      Like

  2. Dana permalink

    Marco, these are sensible, reasonable and fair ideas you’ve posed, and I wish they could be widely shared. We’ve had well over 200 mass shootings already this year, but it seems the same tired mask and vaccine arguments take precedence in the news.

    Over the years I’ve had various firearms in my possession. But sooner or later reason should dictate that shooting paper targets at a range is not preparation whatsoever for an actual event.

    Like

    • Thank you, Dana. You likely remember an earlier piece I wrote on home defense and the pitfalls for untrained and inexperienced users when using firearms for home defense. I may re-post that as well.

      Like

      • Dana permalink

        Good idea, Marco. Looking forward to revisiting that helpful information.

        Like

  3. Ray Rivers permalink

    Thanks for the article Marco – your proposal is much like the system we have here in Canada where the RCMP licences anyone who wants to own and use a firearm. Requirements for licencing every five years includes consent by spouse or live-in partner, since so many homicides are domestic.

    I don’t think you go far enough in demanding assault weapons be banned, something we also have done in Canada, and for the reasons you provide. But we are banning assault weapons since they only purpose they have to kill other people, why not handguns as well. Nobody hunts with a handgun, its only purpose is to kill people. Getting those easy kill weapons off the streets of America would take much of the anxiety which police officers endure, and perhaps the reason they are so quick to shoot first and ask questions later. And perhaps one could then conceive of police with limited access to forearms as is the case in the UK.

    Thanks again for the column – the spate of pointless mass shootings seems to just go on forever and it will until somebody brings the madness of gun ownership under control.

    Like

    • Ray, first I sincerely thank you for contributing to this discussion. Your mention of the RCMP raises thoughts of the little explored cultural differences between Canada and the U.S. Reading in prep school about the difference in attitudes toward police, I read that the RCMP was originally similar to the concept on which the U.S. Green Berets were founded: “Armed Anthropologists”. That is, medics, linguists, counselors, and, when necessary, enforcers. In the U.S. enforcement came first; the police forces were generally the toughest kids in town, poorly educated and usually unfit for other work. If criminals were tough, the police had to be tougher. We’ve seen this develop as more powerful firearms became more easily available, often “outgunning” local police forces. The “answer” came from the Pentagon and the unloading of sometimes extreme military equipment on local police forces, who had to pay only for the shipping of these materials. And, as more returning ex-military found themselves unable to compete in the civilian job market, they found themselves quite at home in police forces which were quickly becoming para-military forces. This fostered a growing outlook among those police forces that they were occupation enforcers, not truly members of the community. “Civilians” ( a term which I, while in the military, thought applied only to non-military) became the “other” to police.

      By the way, as a teenager I quickly realized my use of a rifle was too good to be sporting while hunting; I switched to a handgun when hunting squirrels and rabbits (I always ate what I shot).

      Like

  4. Gary permalink

    You need to get more serious about gun control than this. What you really need is an amendment to the second amendment to take out of the 18th century and bring it into the 21st. I would be interested to know whether you have any thoughts on such an amendment might look like, Marco?

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    • Gary, I sincerely thank you, as I did Ray (above). You raise a crucial point. I think the context in which the 2nd Amendment was passed no longer applies. In that original context we did not have standing armies or a navy and coast guard ready to engage any and all invading hostile powers. Thus, it was reasonable that a largely dispersed, agrarian population which was also often at threat from larger indigenous populations, the various Indian tribes, should be empowered to defend itself. It seems obvious to me that those conditions no longer apply; I think the days of massive conventional armies landing on the beaches are gone, and the internal threat, though impressive as we saw on January 6th, is manageable with a proper government, such as we now have, in power.

      Since the 2nd Amendment appears to be predicated upon the defunct context cited above, I would push for repeal of the Amendment with the proviso that federal law will provide for the private ownership of firearms under strictly regulated conditions. As you know, we have had an ongoing conflict over “State’s Rights” versus federal control and that will certainly be a battle. But when State Governors, such as in Texas, enact “laws” empowering anyone to carry a handgun without any license, background check, or supervised training we must act even in ways some would see as precipitous.

      Following on points you and Ray have raised, I think gun buy back programs, as we have seen in the U.S., are largely ineffective. People bring in their broken, worn out junk and turn the money into more guns and/or ammunition. House to house searches would most certainly spark nation wide violence, even while many guns would be hidden. I do think curtailing ammunition sales, though the effects would take time, is a safer way to go.

      Like

  5. Hold onto your hats, boys; here we go.

    I have never been particularly fond of guns, but I will admit they do have their place in modern society. There have been guns in my home for most of my life, and we taught our children proper use and deep respect for firearms of every type. They were never allowed to be thought of as toys, with the possible exception of the brightly colored water variety. My children were not allowed to point even a toy gun (again, with the exception of the water variety) at another human being, and their toys were not of the type designed for the sole purpose of killing other human beings. Killing is not a game, and guns are not toys.

    It’s okay for sane, responsible, well-trained adults to have guns for hunting (ugh!) or protection. Said adults should be trained in gun safety, and said guns should be of the variety for which they were purchased. No one outside of a military or police force needs the kinds of guns which are meant for the rapid fire elimination of fellow human beings. For my friends who think they should be allowed these things because “second amendment”, join the military and they will be issued to you. I’m for registering guns, and for full vetting of anyone who wants to purchase one. The last thing I want or need is a crazy person running through my neighborhood playing Rambo.

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    • Thank you, Rose. I certainly agree with everything you’ve said. Perhaps teenagers should be exposed to videos taken in emergency rooms, to see the aftermath and understand the consequences of gunplay. Too many people seem to not understand that even non-lethal wounds can have life long crippling effects.

      Like

  6. Vampirella lives!

    C

    Like

    • The above comment wasm’t complete, but touchpads sometimes move on their own.

      The ideas you’ve presented in this post aren’t unreasonable, and this would be an interesting social media share as well.

      Civilians sporting assault rifles are clearly overcompensating for other deficiencies.

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      • Thank, Vampirella. I entirely agree. See my next post just now coming out for a re-statement of the foolishness of the current rush to get the wrong weapons.

        Like

  7. Glad to see you back, Vampirella. Sorry we lost your earlier visit.

    Like

  8. William Boyd permalink

    Thanks, Marco, for your cogent primer on short- and long-arms. BB

    Like

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