American Gun Owner

I’m an American gun owner. I have three NYPD pistols. I grew up in Vermont, which has fewer gun regulations than Texas or anywhere else, for that matter. If I moved back, I’d be a hunter. (Back when I was a kid, the first day of deer season was a de facto school holiday. And there were always rifles in racks in trucks in the school parking lot.) But I never wanna see this Onion headline again:

“‘No Way To Prevent This,’ Says Only Nation Where This Regularly Happens.”

They publish it every time—and there have been too many times—forcing us to wince because we know it’s a lie. We know it’s our cop out. So let’s spitball, here, about “no way to prevent this.”

Look, shooting is fun. It is. And I believe that gun ownership is an individual right. But there’s no legit reason for a bump stock. Convenience at the range isn’t a good enough reason for high-capacity magazines.

In the US, between 32,000 and 33,000 people die each year in car crashes—about the same numbers as for gun deaths. But we demand registration, insurance, and tiered licensing (motorcycle, CDL, hazmat, etc) for drivers. Why not for guns? Because it’s in the Constitution? Admittedly, that is a huge difference. After all, the Founders never talked about cars (nor, to avoid arguments about anachronism, did they declare a right to a horse or other conveyance, for that matter). But they talked about our arms, and they put it second after free expression. Still, even Justice Scalia said “the Second Amendment right is not unlimited.” He said “It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.”

So the Onion’s wrong (as it knows it is and wants to be): there ARE ways to prevent “this.”

— As I said above, there’s mandatory training, testing, and licensing. Hunter safety courses, stuff the NRA used to do. If dad taught you to shoot at deer camp, take a test a prove it, just the way I did at the DMV after learning how to drive on old logging roads.

— We need to synchronize more robust background checks with HIPAA restrictions. Responsible gun shops should care if they’re selling to someone with a flagged history of violent psychosis or self-harm (about two-thirds of those gun deaths mentioned above are suicides, after all), the same way they should care if they’re selling to a felon.

— The CDC should be allowed to epidemiologically examine gun violence.

— Doctors should be encouraged to ask patients about guns in the house—cops already do it for domestic violence. It keeps people safe.

— Law enforcement should be notified when individuals make massive short-term purchases of firearms and/or ammo. Not to persecute or seize, but to do what they do: investigate to keep people safe.

— There should be much stricter controls on the purchase of combat-oriented items like high-capacity magazines, trigger accelerators, tracers, flash suppressors, sound suppressors, etc.

None of this stops hunting, or sport shooting. It doesn’t preclude possessing weapons for self defense. It doesn’t prevent people who like the cool tricked-out jammies with the mil-spec stuff from getting it—they just need commensurate training, testing, and licensing. Unfortunately, it doesn’t really specifically address handguns, either, which are by far the most dangerous problem—for suicides, for street crime, and even for mass shootings.

Finally, I know this won’t stop all criminals from misusing firearms—I was a Bronx cop and I’m not naive about black markets nor about human evil. But it will stop some. Heck, I don’t want ANY sociopathic shooters from crews spraying city corners, but there’s no way to stop them all. So if there are ways to limit the tools of their sociopathy to 8 rounds rather than 20, even part of the time, why stand in the way of that?

The point is: We CAN do something to prevent this. Not all of this, but some. The horrible fact is that America has experienced a mass shooting on nine of every ten days since January 1, 2013. What if we had experienced one on five of every ten days instead? Or two? What if 30 more people came home from that concert in Las Vegas? What if it was YOUR kid, or YOUR spouse, or YOU? Isn’t that worth it?

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