After San Bernardino, many are talking about our gun laws. And they should be. We had a major incident, and whenever that happens — be it guns or otherwise — we should be looking at our policy and seeing if it’s still effective.
For the record, I don’t believe in “gun control” per se. This is America, we have guns in our constitution, and I see no reason not to have them in the future.
However, that doesn’t mean I condone a weapons free for all, like we seem to have today.
Before we go too much farther, gun control is as much in our culture as guns themselves. I’m sure many have seen this familiar scene in movies, and I never recall seeing anyone stand up and run out of a movie theater screaming about the 2nd Amendment:
And, for those on the other side, yes, guns have been used to remove tyranny in the US — 1946, Athens, Tennessee. The so called “Battle of Athens” where local citizens (including many WWII veterans) stood up in response to corruption and electoral fraud. It’s rare, but it has happened.
And, just to be plain up front, let’s stop bringing Hitler into the gun debate. Sure, he collected guns. He was also a huge advocate for prayer in school and affordable cars. Unless you’re talking about the actual holocaust, you should refrain from throwing the Hitler hysteria card. All that does is distract from the actual discussion, which is about policy. And, again, no one (reasonable, anyway) is calling for wholesale gun collection. Even Australia didn’t do that.
So, let’s just get all of that nonsense out of the way — on both sides.
Having rules about gun use and ownership doesn’t mean someone is coming to get your guns. And, gun ownership does have value outside of fighting tyranny. City folk may forget, but many beyond the suburbs still hunt for meat, not just for sport (though there is that, too, and nothing wrong with it).
Instead, I want to discuss guns, rules, regulations, and capitalism to see how the “American Way” can get us out of the mess we find ourselves in.
Regulation Isn’t Terrible
Right now, any attempt to further regulate guns by the government is seen as an aberration of freedom. I’m sorry, but that’s bullshit. A ton of stuff in this country is regulated and we are all much better off for it.
Health Codes, business rules, highways, power distribution, telephone, OSHA, Hazardous material, nuclear power, shipping — hell, freaking elevators! Literally, a million things in your life are regulated and, yet, still freedom. So, please, your argument is invalid.
However, as always with regulation, the real question is: “What should we regulate and how?”
I’ll make it extremely simple for everyone. We make owning a gun just like owning a car.
Licenses, Insurances, and Ending the Black Market
We’ve all been there in the DMV taking our driver’s test the first time. We took drivers ed, rode around with our parents, and practiced parallel parking in the parking lot down the street on Sunday mornings when no one was there.
We took our written test, our practical test, and then we got a license. Not the car, mind you, just the license.
We started driving some old beater car with insurance our parents could barely afford to pay, because nothing says trouble like a new driver. As we got older, more experienced, and mroe stable, our insurance rate went down and, with earning power, eventually got a nicer car.
And with every car we ever owned, we had to register it, provide proof of insurance, and maintain it.
So, why can’t we do this exact same thing with guns?
Seriously. I want to know how, exactly, gun ownership should be any different than car ownership?
Why shouldn’t any prospective gun owner be required to show a valid license and insurance before purchasing?
Why shouldn’t said gun, once purchased, be registered with the state and added to your insurance policy?
We have to do this with our cars, our homes, our motorcycles, our boats, jetskis — all kinds of things in our lives we do this and never blink an eye.
Guns should be no different.
The Gun Show Conundrum
As for gun shows… No. Oh, you can still have them, but it’s not a valid justification for waiving the three day waiting period (under this plan, the insurer would be responsible for the background checks). I’m sorry, but it isn’t. No reasonable person would ever agree to that. I mean, what goes through your mind when you say this out loud:
Customer: And I really have to wait three whole days before I can take my gun to the range?
Gun Store Owner: Yes, sir, that is the law. We require a 3 day waiting period to ensure you’re not taking a gun in anger or duress. It’s safer for everyone, you and me. And three days really isn’t a long time in the big scheme of things.
Customer: But, I feel like my life is in jeopardy — I just don’t feel safe right now.
Gun Store Owner: Well, have you called the police to let them know you feel threatened? How about you head over to your folks’ house, or a friend’s?
Customer: No, I need a gun. I need it today. Right now.
Gun Store Owner: Oh, that’s different. Just head over to the blue tent at the fair grounds, they’ll give you anything you want. No waiting, no questions.
How would a gun show make money if no one can take home any guns bought at the show? How about partnering with a local gun store? You can buy the gun with the dealer at the show, they have to verify license and insurance, and then the actual weapon and copies of the sale documentation are left with a local gun store for pick up later in the week. Just swing by, let the gun store re-verify the paperwork, and you’re on your merry way.
Again — just like cars. I bought a car overseas from the NEX in Okinawa, picked it up three weeks later from a dealer in Mississipi. Walked in, flashed my ID and purchase paperwork, and drove out.
This isn’t rocket science.
How to Implement This
How do we make this happen? Like nearly everything else in America, we put a code onto your drivers license.
Non-Motorcyle riders may not know this, but those who do ride have a little “M” on their drivers license. To get that “M” (in most states), you need to take the motorcycle safety course, get a little blue certification card, and take it with you to the DMV. That card states that you have passed the written and practical tests and are certified as competent to ride. The DMV issues you a new license with your hard earned “M” and you can then go and buy a motorcycle. But, as with any vehicle, you can’t ride it around without insurance.
There is a similar process for truck drivers, equipment operators, and even RV owners.
For guns, I propose the same thing with a slight change in the order.
First, you should have to take a certified gun safety course (written and practical) for gun use, which you can then take to the DMV to have a code (“G” I assume) added to your license. This isn’t your uncle showing you how to shoot in the back yard. It’s a state certified course, with a state certified instructor. Just like drivers ed.
With that shiny new license, you can go to your local gun shop and buy whatever you want. Seriously. I don’t care. Whatever you want. You should still have to wait 3 days before you take it home, though, because crimes of passion are a real thing and, if I was a gun store owner, I’d like to make sure everyone was cool before sliding that gun across the counter.
Here’s the change I was talking about: Before you pick the gun up, you need to show proof of insurance for the gun you are going to purchase. You have three days to get it sorted, come back with your insurance card stating someone will back you for injury or misuse of the firearm you chose.
And, let’s be honest, depending on what you are trying to buy, it might not be cheap.
This is where capitalism comes in.
Just like 16 year olds and cars, depending on what you want to buy your insurance might get prohibitive. I fully expect to see discounts on gun insurance for good students, military service, trigger locks, and gun ownership history. But, I also think that a first time gun owner wanting to buy an AR-15 is going to have a whopper of an insurance bill, if they can even get coverage at all.
And before the gun rights drama starts — this is exactly the same as cars. I bought a sports car when I was covered by my parent’s insurance — I could afford the monthly payment and I liked the car. When I left college and went out on my own, I had to get my own insurance — and I dumped the car 3 months afterward. Why? Because a 22 year old junior officer with a sports car equated to $417/mo for insurance — twice the actual car payment. Economic forces won out, and my next car was a Ford Ranger pick up which USAA (my insurer) liked a whole lot more.
The government never said what car I could buy, or even how many cars I could own. But, I had to be a responsible owner, and that meant having insurance.
Insurance Changes Everything
Let’s talk about guns and insurance. Death by gun-assisted suicide? Insurer doesn’t have to pay benefits.
Shoot someone? If on purpose, it’s criminal. If by accident, your insurance is liable. Probably going to get a premium increase for that.
Property damage? Insurance — again, look for the price hike.
Happen too many times? Probably going to lose your insurance, same as you would if you were reckless with your car.
Gun ownership is directly equated to risk. Period, all stop, no exceptions. It’s no different than sports cars and smoking.
We don’t need fifty new gun laws. We don’t need crazy drama. We have a system for handling this already, we should use it.
A gun is not some mythical device. It isn’t inherently more special or dangerous than anything else in our life. As Kurt Russel recently said in response to the threat of guns, “They can also get cars and run you over. What are you gonna do about that?”
You’re absolutely right, Kurt.
But, you need to license, register, and insure a car. Now, let’s do the same for guns.