Every time there’s a shooting, people all over the place come out of the woodworks. We’re bombarded with views in all directions on what to do about it, but nobody can seem to come to a compromise.
The crazy thing is, most gun owners that I know (including myself) can agree that the laws are too relaxed. Unfortunately, nobody can seem to come up with any reasonable solutions to the problem. It’s always “ban all guns” or “guns for everybody”, without any middle ground. Neither will likely ever happen during our lifetimes, and neither is an appropriate response.
What To Fix
Before I go into the solution, here are my views on the problems that need to be solved. You might not agree with all of them, and that’s okay. The important thing is that you read this with an open mind and think critically on an overall scale, rather than putting political or personal feelings towards it.
Ease of Access
Guns are stupidly easy to get. Plain and simple.
Outside of state regulations that may vary, guns can be legally purchased without any sort of background check or waiting period via person-to-person sales. All you need is a bit of cash and someone willing to sell you a gun. In my experience, even when buying from a dealer, background checks take less than 10-20 minutes and you’re on your way.
Illegal sales are even easier. Want to buy a gun? Find someone selling that won’t run a background check on you. Since background checks (at least in Virginia) are voluntary for private sales, it’s super easy for a felon to buy a gun from a private party. What happens if they do and are caught? Well, first it has to be proven that the person knowingly sold the gun to a felon.
Like I said in the last portion, the penalty for selling a gun to a felon only applies if it’s done knowingly. Removing the provision and enforce harsher punishments would force private sellers to be more careful about who they sell to. If you faced 20 years in prison for selling a gun to a felon, would you make 100% sure to do your due diligence? I sure as shit know that I would.
I’m sure you’ve heard of 80% lowers receivers. If not, let me explain it to you:
A gun consists of multiple parts and not every part is considered a “gun”. For example, the part on an AR-15 that is considered a firearm by the ATF is the lower receiver. If it’s not more than 80% complete (basically a block of metal in the shape of the receiver), it’s not a firearm (yet).
With a simple drill press, an 80% lower can be purchased online, completed, and assembled with other readily available parts (bolt carrier group, barrel, stock, etc.) without any checks whatsoever.
Availability of Highly Destructive Parts
Things like bump stocks, Sig stocks, suppressors, and high-capacity magazines are readily available and super easy to obtain. While they’re fun to shoot, they don’t serve any practical purpose other than to cause mass damage. Should they be completely outlawed? Probably not as they’re not inherently dangerous on their own, but the potential is there when used maliciously. Let me clarify a bit:
Bump stocks can be fun, but they’re mainly just a loophole and mostly impossible to actually write a law to prevent them since it’s still a semi-automatic weapon. They serve a practical purpose of lessening recoil, but let’s face it, that’s not what you’re actually using it for.
Sig stocks allow for a shorter weapon while keeping a rifle legally a “pistol”. They can make sense when someone may need more control on a handgun, but once again, it’s not exactly what it’s being used for in the majority of cases. It’s a short-barreled rifle and should be treated as such. Sure you could still shoulder it with an exposed buffer tube, but most wouldn’t bother because of the lack of comfort.
Suppressors can help with hearing but obviously will lessen the sound. No, it’s not silent or anything like you would hear in movies, but if you’ve ever shot with or been around someone using a suppressor, there’s no denying that there’s a noticeable difference in the sound. Just wear ear protection. Problem solved.
I keep a 15-round magazine in my Glock 19. Why? Because in the event that I ever need my gun, I might miss 14 times during the chaos. I can even defend higher capacity magazines because constantly reloading sucks. That said, we shouldn’t get rid of them but we should at least look into the situation. We’ll get into that in a bit.
A Possible Solution: Federally-Enforced Licensing
In thinking these things over, I’ve been able to come up with a possible solution to the previously mentioned issues. It’s not an idea set in stone and it wouldn’t solve all of the issues, but it’s progress and something I think we could all be okay with.
How do we keep private-party sales legal, gun registrations optional, and concealed carry laws consistent? Licensing. Let me explain:
If someone decides to become a gun owner, they would simply go through a process similar to a combination of a concealed carry permit and a driver’s license. They would file paperwork similar to obtaining a concealed carry permit (or more likely, a passport), prove competence (similar to taking a driving test), and undergo a federal background check with an appropriate waiting period. Just like a concealed carry permit, it would be valid for a set number of years and revoked in the event that the individual becomes a felon or any other reason that would cause a background check to fail.
Easier Gun Purchases For Law-Abiding Citizens
The benefits of a system like this would be that gun purchases would be simplified for both the buyer and seller. Individual background checks wouldn’t be needed and anyone with a license could walk into a store and buy a gun just as easily as they can a case of beer. Obvious needs for checking the validity of the license would exist, but with the technology we have today, it wouldn’t be hard at all.
Private-party sales would also be protected. Want to know if you’re selling a gun to a felon? Something as simple as using a portable device to check the validity of a license would be a cakewalk. If everything checks out, make the transaction and call it a day. Locations such as gun ranges could even check validity at the door and validity would be assumed for any transactions that take place.
Most people probably know someone who we think shouldn’t own a gun, but can legally purchase and carry one. With the idea of showing competence to acquire a license, we could likely decrease things such as accidental discharge or injuries to bystanders in the event that a weapon has to be used. You probably shouldn’t carry a gun daily if you can’t hit your target at a reasonable distance or know how to properly handle and maintain your gun. You can’t always fix stupid, but someone understanding their effective distance could help greatly in the event that they need to shoot something.
Similar to needing an endorsement on your driver’s license to drive a motorcycle or 18-wheeler, an endorsement could be required to purchase or possess things like large capacity magazines, bump stocks, or even fully automatic weapons. A bit of extra training and monitoring could simplify the process of owning “the fun stuff” while lessening the availability of said items. No more tax stamps or wondering what laws the ATF is going to change next. Just have the endorsement and you’re ready to rock.
Harsh Penalties For Failed Compliance
If a license is easy to obtain for a law-abiding citizen and laws are clear, penalties can be ramped up for those who fail to comply. If you’re caught with a gun without a license, extreme penalties like large amounts of prison time could apply. It wouldn’t stop every bad guy from having a gun, but it would make the risk far greater if the proper steps aren’t taken first.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. If you have any thoughts on how this idea could be better, let me know in the comments.
Photo by nscottbadger